Many of us have heard of the plight of the monarch butterfly, which has come to symbolize the sharp decline in the numbers of pollinators throughouth the world. These are the bees, moths, bats and birds that are losing ground (literally!) in a battle for the habitat that they need to eat, migrate and continue to pollinate the very plants that the rest of the food chain, including us humans, need to survive! As a matter of fact, in 2016 seven bee species were placed on the Endangered Species List for the first time ever in the United States. We clearly have a problem here.
Stemming from Great Parks’ involvment in the Monarch Joint Venture, the Great Parks’ Pollinator Project was created with the purpose of increasing habitat and awareness for all pollinators in the parks and surrounding community, as well as to educate people on the importance of pollinators and the steps that they can take to increase habitat in their own backyards and neighborhoods. But this can’t be accomplished without the help of partnerships with schools , community centers and other organizations, as well as community project volunteers.
Check out what we’ve done so far, and where we plan to go from here below.
What sprouted in 2016:
• A partnership with Rothenberg Elementary and their incredible rooftop garden team. Julie Stubbs, outreach naturalist at Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve, took monarch butterflies to the school to tag and release with Rothenberg students. Check out the amazed looks on their faces! The 5th grade students from Rothenberg will be visiting Miami Whitewater Forest and Shaker Trace Nursery in the spring to learn more about pollinators and the park. A pollinator area at the school’s rootop garden is planned for the future, using seeds donated from the nursery and planted by the students.
• Destination Imagination, a group of elementary students from the Lakota school district, brought a small crew of family and friends to Sharon Woods to kick off the quest for an Audobon certification at the golf course. Park Manager Scott Deland led the group to a designated area, where they were able to plant milkweed and other pollinator seeds.
What’s growing in 2017:
• Pollinator seed packets, which include a special mix designed by nursery manager Tim Osborne, will be filled at Shaker Trace Nursery in Miami Whitewater Forest. These will be distributed to volunteers and visitors for planting throughout the county.
• A greenup volunteer event at Fernbank Park will turn an area along the walking path into a pollinator meadow. While we’re at it, we’ll also clear away some invasives in the area to make room for more native plants.
• A potential project in Embshoff Woods on Route 50 will turn an abandoned lot into a native plant area for pollinators and neighbors to enjoy!
It’s exciting to see this project take flight — there’s a lot of work to do!
Niki Marengo, Volunteer Coordinator & Great Parks’ Green Team Member