Enhancing Pollinator Health & Habitat
Coastal Bend College celebrated the establishment of its Pollinator Conservation Garden and Apiary on Friday, April 7th, 2017. Since being certified as an official “Bee Campus USA” in June of this year, the college has been looking for ways to support pollinator conservation. Dr. Beatrice Espinoza, CBC President, provided the Bee Campus Committee with a plot of land to enhance for the betterment of South Texas pollinators. The committee co-chaired by Nick Ottensman and Mark Secord, voted to establish a Conservation Garden and Apiary. Mr. Secord took the lead on the establishment of the Conservation Garden and Mr. Ottensman spear-headed the effort to establish CBC’s first apiary.
Work on the Pollinator Conservation Garden officially began in March. The plot of land selected was heavily overgrown with brush and trees, and was initially cleared to allow fencing and tilling of the soil. After soil preparation, 10 pounds of native seed was planted to provide a mixture of wildflowers for area pollinators. In addition, a decorative entrance was built. Signage was also put in place to inform the public and make them aware of the bees that would be in the immediate area.
In November 2017, students, faculty, and staff came together to plant 60 trees across the campus. These included fruiting mulberries, live oaks, white oaks, red oaks, purple lavender, and crepe myrtles.
Policies & Practices
President Espinoza and Dean Secord carried the “Bee City USA” initiative forward and met with city manager, Jack Hamlet. They also gave presentations to Progressive Bee County and the City Counsel.
In April 2016, the City of Beeville agreed to move forward with their proposal to apply for their “Bee City USA” designation. Soon after, Coastal Bend College sought and was granted “Bee Campus USA” status. The City of Beeville and Coastal Bend College jointly proclaimed their respective designations as a Bee City and Bee Campus, USA on June 25th.
Education & Outreach
CBC provided pollinator awareness and education during the college’s annual Spring fest held April 12th, 2017. A table was setup at the event and educational materials were provided to local community members.
During National Pollinator Week, the college also partnered with the city of Beeville to host the first annual Bee Jamboree. Local arts, crafts, honey, and other food items were offered for sale. Informational pamphlets and a bee keeping demonstration were also presented by local beekeeper, Nick Ottensman. Children were given bee finger puppets and provided with wildflower “seed bombs” to help propagate local wildflowers.
In November 2017, students enrolled in General Biology and members of the PTK Honor Society assisted in the planting of 60 trees donated by the Apache Corporation. Mr. King Fuller, owner of Fuller Tractors, also volunteered. These trees were planted in the Pollinator Conservation Garden, along the community walking track , and throughout the CBC campus.
The students were very engaged in this project and took great pride in giving back to their community. Some of the students actually named their trees and look forward to tracking their progress as they grow. This connection to the land helped them develop a greater understanding, and appreciation, of our conservation efforts
Pollinator conservation has been incorporated into our General Biology course curriculum. Our biology instructors discuss the role pollinators play within various ecosystems and their importance to agriculture. In the future, the students will tour the Pollinator Conservation Garden and will see some of the efforts we are making to preserve local pollinators. Various grants are also being pursued to provide informational signage for students and community members. It is our hope that we can incorporate undergraduate research projects relevant to pollinator conservation.
Currently, we have some signage posted throughout our Pollinator Conservation Garden and along our walking track. We are pursuing various grants which will allow us to provide informative signage throughout the campus.
Local Website & Contact Information
The Bee Campus Website can be found on our home page at www.coastalbend.edu. It is located under the “Programs” tab and is entitled “Bee Campus USA.” The url is: http://www.coastalbend.edu/beecampus