More than 12,800 Oklahomans participated in voting for their favorite of six monarch butterfly-themed license plate designs in an online contest hosted by The Nature Conservancy the past two weeks.
With 3,383 votes, a vibrant plate designed by artist Rick Sinnett of Mustang is the winning design for the specialty plate. Sales of the plates will help The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma’s efforts on behalf of monarchs and other pollinators, according to Conservancy spokeswoman Katie Hawk.
In May, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 170 authorizing the creation of the monarch-themed license plate to “honor and raise awareness about the magnificent monarch.” The plates, available for a higher fee through the Oklahoma Tax Commission, are only a specialty plate, not a replacement for the official state license plate.
This is the second such license-plate contest organized by the Conservancy. The first, featuring a bison, came on the heels of Oklahoma unveiling what proved to be a design unpopular with many people as the official state plate featuring a scissor-tailed flycatcher. The design was not selected by popular vote.
The new monarch plate design showcases a monarch butterfly in the center with an abstract sunset in the background and milkweed flowers in the foreground. Milkweed is the host plant for monarchs.
“The competition was neck-and-neck the entire time, but there was one design that proved to be the public’s favorite,” Conservancy director for Oklahoma Mike Fuhr stated in an announcement on the winning design.
“As an artist, native Oklahoman and lover of nature this marks a significant milestone for me in terms of striving to be the best steward I can be,” stated Sinnett. “It’s such a tremendous honor and privilege to be awarded the opportunity to be part of something I support and believe in. Now let’s save the monarchs!”
Coming in second and third place were two designs created by Shawn Davis at BOLD Multimedia in Norman. BOLD received 2,813 votes for their “Save the Monarchs” plate and 2,523 votes for their design featuring wildflowers and milkweed.
“Monarch butterflies represent endurance, change, hope, life, and Oklahoma’s breathtaking prairies. Unfortunately, their populations have plummeted at an alarming rate,” stated Fuhr. “The license plate is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the important role monarchs and other native pollinators play in our food production and the need for more miles of milkweed and wildflowers.”
The Nature Conservancy works to conserve critical pollinator habitat throughout Oklahoma and teams up with a broad range of groups including farmers, ranchers, tribes, residents, government agencies, businesses, gardeners, artists and municipalities, Hawk said.
The Nature Conservancy is a founding member of the Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative, a statewide group of more than 40 organizations.
The Nature Conservancy will now submit the winning design to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. If approved, the plate will be available for the public to preorder for 180 days beginning on Nov. 1, at nature.org/okmonarchs.
If 100 plates are sold within that time frame, then the plate will go into production and be available at tag agencies statewide.
The cost of this plate will be $38, with $20 from each plate benefiting the Conservancy’s pollinator habitat conservation and outreach efforts in Oklahoma.