Enhancing Pollinator Health & Habitat
The University of North Texas is known as the Mean Green, and students play a leadership role in making UNT a pollinator friendly campus. Through UNT’s We Mean Green Fund, any student can propose a project to make the campus more environmentally friendly, and there have been several student-led projects that are highlighted in UNT’s Bee Campus USA designation.
The Pecan Creek Pollinative Prairie is a 4-acre prairie recreation project that is under way at UNT’s Discovery Park Engineering Campus. Under the leadership of Ecology faculty, over 250 students have dedicated over 750 hours of service learning at the site to remove invasive Bermuda Grass and establish native wildflowers and grasses. Students have participated in experiments to determine the best methods for control of Bermuda Grass and have seeded over 2 acres to date. The site is meant to be the base for a healthy ecosystem in a suburban environment and will continue to be utilized as a living laboratory for students to experience hands-on learning as the project continues to develop over the coming years.
Students have also led in the establishment of a UNT Community Garden at UNT where a portion of the produce benefits the UNT Food Pantry. The UNT Community Garden opened in March 2017 and gardeners quickly got to work to transform the area into a vibrant garden with 20 raised beds, a compost team, and of course, a native landscape to make sure that pollinators visit the garden.
UNT also hosts EarthFest annually to celebrate EarthFest. In 2017, the Bee Campus USA Committee partnered with the non-profit The Great Seed Bomb to have a seed ball event where students cast 3,000 seed balls in a native landscape area adjacent to the library mall at the heart of campus. Students were also given seed packets with native wildflowers to take home and the committee provided education about the important role that pollinators play in our ecosystem to all 3,000 students that attended the event.
Policies & Practices
One of the largest accomplishments that UNT’s Bee Campus USA Committee made was drafting and adopting an Integrated Pest Management Plan and Preferred Native Plants List, which should help to ensure that pollinator habitat is thought of as decisions are made for the campus.
Grounds Manager, Erik Trevino, deserves recognition for his leadership in drafting the Integrated Pest Management Plan and Facilities Planner, Peter Palacios, should be recognized for leading the Preferred Native Plants List work.
Education & Outreach
Whether it be in the classroom, at the community garden, at EarthFest, or the buzz about Bee Campus USA is all over campus. Pollinator education is a component of 6 classes at UNT, and many Ecology students get a hands-on experience in helping to recreate the native prairie ecosystem with the Pollinative Prairie project which aims to establish 4 acres of Blackland Prairie at UNT’s Discovery Park Campus. 8 workdays were held in 2017 where students learned about native ecology and pollinators while participating in the restoration work.
UNT students are leading the charge to make campus pollinator friendly by providing over 750 hours of service learning. Students have contributed to controlling invasive species, seeded over 2-acres, and have put hundred of native perennials into the ground. Students look to build upon efforts in 2018 as the Sustainability Service cord has been launched to incentivize and recognize student service related to the environment and a LLELA (Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Annex) track focused on ecological restoration is in development!
UNT offers 6 courses that feature content related to pollinator ecology and native plant ecology. Students that are science majors and non-majors have the opportunity to learn about he role that pollinators play in our environment in freshman level Environmental Science classes, and content is covered at a more advanced level in upper-level courses and graduate level courses. Ecology students have the opportunity to get a hands-on experience by participating in ecological restoration at the Pollinative Prairie or at Lewisvill Lake Environmental Learning Annex (LLELA.
The Bee Campus USA Committee along with the assistance of student volunteer, Breena Riley has been surveying campus to determine the plants that need to be identified on campus and drafts of signs have been created. Permission has been given by Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center to feature QR Codes that link to their online database so that signs maintain a beautiful aesthetic and Bee Campus branding while also providing complete information to interested students.
Local Website & Contact Information
Check out more details about what UNT is doing to make the campus pollinator friendly at http://studentaffairs.unt.edu/sustainable/bee-campus-usa