Insect pollinators are essential for food production and ecological diversity, but their populations are at risk. Beekeepers are losing large numbers of honey bee colonies. Many species of wild bees are in decline. The rusty-patch bumblebee, a once common and widespread species, has been declared “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act, and the iconic monarch butterfly is now a candidate for listing.
To increase habitat for insect pollinators and monarch butterflies, we’re working with educators and youth in high school agriculture programs.
Through our competitive Pollinator Habitat Grant Program, agriculture and science high school teachers apply to 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.
To qualify for a grant, a school needs a greenhouse or suitable indoor growing areas to raise approximately 600 seedlings of milkweed, prairie blazing star, wild bergamot, and other native forb species.
Applicants must identify a rural area (preferably a farm) where they will transplant these native wildflowers in the spring. Students participate in raising native plants in the greenhouse, transplanting them onto the partnering property, and managing and monitoring the planting site through the summer and fall.
Our application period for the 2020/2021 school year has closed. We anticipate opening the next application period in the fall of 2021, for projects beginning in early 2022.
Together with the Earth Partnership at the University of Wisconsin, we developed a Pollinator Habitat Curriculum Guide that is available via free download. The guide provides high school educators with a set of activities appropriate for establishing, managing, and monitoring prairie habitat suitable for monarch butterflies, other insect pollinators and grassland birds. The guide aligns with Common Core and Next Generation Science standards. Click here for more information.