Enhancing Pollinator Health & Habitat
Since starting the Save the Bees Campaign in the spring of 2017, UConnPIRG has been spearheading efforts to protect pollinators at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT. The campaign has held tables across campus and at the annual Earth Day celebration, organized in-class presentations for undergraduate and graduate students, and coordinated a panel discussion of pollinator professionals.
Moreover, the campaign ran its first service-learning project, working to help the UConn Spring Valley Student Farm in their pollinator habitats. Over the course of two service days, the campaign planted pollinator-friendly shrubs and plants at the farm and cleaned out the bee boxes for the winter. Students also had the opportunity to tour the facilities and gain a better understanding of how pollinators affect the food that is actually being served in their dining halls.
Policies & Practices
The University of Connecticut is a leader in green initiatives, which is why it was so easy to gain student support for pollinator protection.
Over the course of the spring semester, the Save the Bees campaign of the student advocacy group UConnPIRG has worked to achieve two primary goals: to establish UConn as a Bee Campus, and to collect photo petitions to forward to the EPA. With more than 600 photo petitions collected to date, the Save the Bees campaign has been focusing on finalizing the application for Bee Campus USA, and has the plans in place to have a long-term pollinator protection initiative.
The Habitat Protection Committee met to verify the establishment and existence of the IPM and a least toxic pesticide plan, while the Office of Environmental Policy, the Sustainability Office, EcoHusky, and the Plant Science Department work to make UConn more environmentally friendly.
The UConnPIRG Save the Bees Campaign is dedicated to grassroots organizing, advocacy, and service in the protection of pollinators. As a student-run, student-funded nonpartisan nonprofit, the campaign will continue to manage the Bee Campus USA application and process until the application is taken over by the Office of Environmental Protection.
For the spring of 2018, the campaign will be working on running more service learning projects, establishing pollinator-friendly gardens on campus, and advocating for the Mansfield/Storrs area to be more bee-friendly. Ultimately, the Save the Bees Campaign is aiming to make Mansfield/Storrs a Bee City USA.
Education & Outreach
All of the Save the Bees Campaign events are aimed at educating the public on pollinator protection, whether that be through grassroots advocacy or service projects. The campaign runs themed tables in dining halls or outside in the middle of campus to talk to as many students as possible.
Moreover, in November of 2017, the campaign hosted a Pollinator Panel Discussion that featured professionals such as the CT State Apiary Inspector, Mark Creighton. This event really celebrated the Bee Campus USA certification. Students attending this event from certain geoscience courses received extra-credit, and had the opportunity to ask specific questions about pollinators.
In total, more than 40 people were in attendance, with guests receiving free sticks of honey while they listened to our four panelists discuss the vital importance of pollinators.
The campaign ran Service Learning Projects at Spring Valley Student Farm. These projects involved promoting pollinator health and habitat protection by planting pollinator-friendly plants and shrubs, as well as cleaning the bee boxes for the winter. Students were educated on organic, sustainable farming practices and on the critical importance of pollinators in the food chain and in the food they eat in University dining halls.
In addition to the curriculum provided by the Integrated Pest Management Program at UConn, and the Plant Science Department, the UConn Save the Bees campaign is committed to developing curriculum that emphasizes the protection of pollinators, the elimination of invasive plants and species, and the planting of native species.
The curriculum also demonstrates the importance of pollinators in the day-to-day lives of people, whether that be in food or culture (SPSS 1125). Courses include an Integrated Pest Management minor and course (PLSC 3840) as well as related courses: Fundamentals of Plant Pathology (PLSC 3810), Insect Pests of Ornamentals and Turf (PLSC 3830), and Turfgrass Pest and Control (TURF 3800).
All eight of the dining halls have been supplied with permanent informational signage regarding pollinators, and how important they are for our food source! These signs feature facts about pollinators, like the fact that 1 in 3 forkfuls of food come from bees. They also tell students which foods they can thank bees for–and the list is extensive.
The Save the Bees campaign also posts around 200-300 posters for each of their events, which include information about the event, getting involved, and pollinator protection. These signs are the easiest ones to pick out in academic buildings; they’re always bright yellow!