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 under consideration for listing.
To increase habitat for insect pollinators and monarch butterflies we’re working with educators and youth.
Sand County Foundation works with Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin high schools to provide students with hands-on habitat restoration experience.
We offer financial grants to agriculture and science instructors to have students raise native forbs (wildflowers) in school greenhouses. They later transplant them in cooperation with area landowners on farms and other areas, and monitor their progress.
These efforts are made possible by funding to Sand County Foundation from Enel Green Power North America, Inc., We Energies Foundation, Syngenta, Bayer Crop Science, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Dairyland Power Cooperative and the Monarch Joint Venture.
This competitive grant program strives to increase the diversity of native forbs within an agricultural landscape for the benefit of native bees, honeybees, and monarch butterflies.
We typically take applications in October. Applicants must commit to finding a suitable site for transplanting. Ideally, you will team up with a farmer (to enhance a field buffer, CRP, etc.) or other private property such as an agricultural or rural electric co-op. School properties can be considered if dedicated to agricultural or natural habitat purposes. In all cases, proper site preparation prior to transplanting will be key to a successful outcome.
Successful applicants will receive seedlings of five native forb species in late March or early April. Students will grow out these plants in a school greenhouse or other suitable indoor area, transplant them onto an appropriate site in late May or June, and maintain and monitor the plants through the summer.
Recipients receive a training webinar, remote consultation from a private native plant nursery, and a $1,000 cash award paid to the school district or FFA chapter to offset project expenses.
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.
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