CHICAGO (CBS) — A new effort to try to increase the dwindling population of Illinois’ state insect, the monarch butterfly, was set to begin this weekend in the Glen Ellyn area.

The monarch butterfly’s population has been going down because of the devastation of the milkweed plant, the only plant monarch butterfly caterpillars can use for food.

Third graders at Ben Franklin Elementary School in Glen Ellyn were involved in a problem-based learning program, and thought one way to solve the problem is to grow more milkweed.

“There were four students that were just amazing, and they took this solution – which was planting more milkweed – to the Glen Ellyn Environmental Commission,” said Sandy Fejt, education site manager at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn.

That led to the idea of distributing milkweed seed packets, which the Wildlife Center will begin doing Saturday during two programs at the Glen Ellyn Library. Throughout the summer, the DuPage County Forest Preserve District will be giving away 8,000 milkweed seed packets.

Aside from the seed packets, about 100 people will be given milkweed plants that were started last year so they can plant them in their own yards this year, and possibly see beautiful butterflies emerging from caterpillars.

Milkweed plant numbers are down due to the use of pesticides and mowing.

Fejt said adult monarch butterflies can feed, or nectar, on any flowering plant, but that the milkweed is the only one that can be used for food during the caterpillar stage.

She says some people are “kind of afraid when you think of native plants”, that “they think of something wild and out-of-control and that’s not necessarily the case.”

At two programs Saturday at the Glen Ellyn Library, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., people will be given some natural history information about the monarch butterfly. Then, there’ll be a demonstration on how to plant the milkweed seeds.