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Iowa Schools Receive Pollinator Grants

Five Iowa high schools have been awarded grants to establish habitat for imperiled insect pollinators and monarch butterflies.

The pollinator habitat grants were awarded by Sand County Foundation to Iowa agricultural and science educators.

Each grant recipient will receive native wildflower seedlings, a training webinar and consultation, and a $1,000 grant for the school district or FFA chapter to offset project expenses.

The schools selected are:

  • City High School, Iowa City
  • Ames Senior High School, Ames
  • West Lyon Community School District, Inwood
  • MFL MarMac High School, Monona
  • Wahlert Catholic High School, Dubuque

“Our objective is to engage students in adding native wildflower diversity to rural areas for the benefit of pollinators and Monarch butterflies,” said Craig Ficenec, Sand County Foundation program director. “Pollinators are essential for crop pollination and ecological diversity, but the numbers of wild bees and monarch butterflies have dropped, partly because of the loss of native wildflower habitat near farmland.”

To qualify for the grants, the schools needed greenhouses or suitable indoor growing areas to raise the nearly 600 seedlings of milkweed, prairie blazing star, wild bergamot, and other species they will receive in March. They were also required to identify a rural area (preferably a farm) where they will transplant these native wildflowers in the spring, and tend to them through the summer.

“For transplanting, we encouraged applicants to find nooks and crannies on the working landscape. For example, fencerows on farms and land under energy infrastructure,” Ficenec added.

Pollinator habitat grant program sponsors include Syngenta and the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

Grants were also awarded to high schools in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

In addition to the grant program, all teachers can access a Pollinator Habitat Curriculum Guide developed through a partnership between Sand County Foundation and Earth Partnership at the University of Wisconsin. The guide’s 28 activities, aligned with state and national education standards, engage students in planning, establishing, managing and monitoring prairie habitat for insect pollinators and grassland birds. The guide is available for free download at

Sand County Foundation is a national non-profit based in Wisconsin that champions voluntary conservation practices by farmers and ranchers to improve soil, water and wildlife habitat.

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Ia 2020 Pollinator