Heidi Roop

Butterflies and School Supplies Make a Global Connection

The summer after ninth grade, Heidi Roop made a trip to Michoacan, an area of Mexico that is the winter breeding ground of North America's monarch butterfly. As someone who cares about the environment, Heidi knew that monarchs can only roost on Oyamel trees, which are native to Mexico. Because of deforestation, the beautiful monarch is threatened with extinction.

When Heidi was thinking about an action project for Take the Lead, memories of the monarch fluttered back into her mind, and she was determined to find a way to help save the butterfly.

Heidi's determination inspired an ingenious solution in which education plays an important role. Heidi recognized that if deforestation is to be controlled, the children in Michoacan must be educated about the environment and the place that monarchs occupy within it.

This realization led Heidi to create the Monarch Watch School Supplies Drive at her high school in Appleton, Wisconsin. The drive raised more than $15,000 in school supplies (Heidi and her peers raised more than $10,000 in pencils, paper, notebooks, markers, and more; then a local distributor donated $5,000). Despite many shipping obstacles, Heidi succeeded in getting the supplies to Mexico, where they support impoverished schools and help educate Mexican students about the monarch butterfly.

For Heidi, working on this ambitious project has been extremely rewarding. "I learned numerous lessons during the planning and execution of this drive. I learned how to motivate both staff and students, to communicate with the administration, to solve problems, and to make connections with publicity. And I learned the importance of persistence and dedication in pursuing a goal to which I am intensely committed." Now that she has succeeded in making the monarch drive fly, Heidi is working on another drive to help friends in northern Panama.