Enhancing Pollinator Health & Habitat
The City of Gillette became Wyoming’s first Bee City USA affiliate in April 2016. Since then, the Pollinator Committee (supported by the Campbell County Master Gardeners) have initiated a variety of pollinator-themed projects in our local community.
Each summer, the City of Gillette offers 96 community planters that local nonprofits, civic groups, businesses, or individuals can adopt and care for over the summer months. The Pollinator Committee worked with Hannah Johnson, Campbell County Extension, and Janie Kuntz, Parks Manager to encourage Adopt-A-Planter participants to select pollinator-friendly plants (those that provide season-long nutrition and shelter). The Committee placed a bee symbol next to pollinator friendly plants on the pre-selected Adopt-A-Planter plant list and created a pollinator friendly planting guide that was distributed to all Adopt-A-Planter participants. The guide included information on Bee City USA, the importance of pollinator conservation, pollinator identification guides, pollinator gardening tips, and information on how to create butterfly puddlers and native bee hotels.
The Pollinator Committee also partnered with the City of Gillette Parks Division to plant Gillette’s first designated Pollinator Rain Garden during the summer of 2017. The 40 x 40 ft garden features native flowering plants including Aquilegia coerulea, Gaillardia aristata, Rudbeckia hirta, Penstemon strictus, Echinacea angustifolia, Monarda fistulosa and Asclepias incarnata. The garden in located in a subdivision drainage that had been overtaken by an exotic annual grass. The pollinator rain garden has not only helped beautify the area and increase pollinator habitat, but has also served to help restore the area to native species. A “pollinator friendly garden” sign purchased from The Xerces Society was also installed on the site to help explain the purpose of the garden.
Policies & Practices
The Pollinator Committee compiled information and resources pertaining to Bee City USA for inclusion in the City of Gillette’s planning and development packet. The city’s Parks and Beautification Board reviewed and approved the materials which will now be distributed to all interested developers as a way to inspire them to incorporate more native plants (or even plant their own pollinator garden) in their landscape design.
Education & Outreach
The Pollinator Committee partnered with the Master Gardeners and Campbell County Extension to have a booth at the 2017 Campbell County Ag Expo located at Camplex, Gillette’s premier events center. The Expo is held for all of the 3rd grade students in the county to learn about different segments of agriculture and explore careers in agriculture. At our booth, the children were able to look at insect cases featuring native pollinators, and volunteers were on hand to discuss native pollinators and field questions from the school kids. A Master Gardener volunteer built and painted a pollinator photo cutout with flowers and bumblebees that the children were allowed to take pictures with, and this was by far the most popular activity. Throughout the day approximately 782 children visited our booth.
On April 29, the Pollinator Committee worked with the GLEE Planning Committee to host Gillette’s first Gillette Pollinator Day in conjunction with the Garden and Landscape Educational Expo (GLEE). During this day-long educational event and pollinator celebration held at Camplex, community members were invited to attend workshops and lectures free of charge to learn about insect identification, pollinators in the garden, flowers for pollinators, and cooking with honey. Our keynote speaker, Benjamin Vogt, emphasized the importance of using native plants to support pollinators during both of his keynote addresses, Designing Urban Prairie Gardens and Native Plants that Support Native Pollinators. Participants who took the Bee Hotel Class learned how to make houses for native bees that they could take home and use in their own gardens. All 650 people that attended GLEE & Gillette Pollinator Day received a Be a Friend to Pollinators brochure.
The Pollinator Committee worked with the Northeast Wyoming Seed Library to make seed bombs containing native wildflower seed donated from Wind River Seed that GLEE participants could take home and plant for free. The Gillette Saturday Farmers’ Market was also held at GLEE, and the Pollinator Committee partnered with the market managers and Bee City USA to develop pollinator awareness posters market vendors could display at their stalls. The Farmers Market Pollinator Posters were later shared with all Bee City USA affiliates via the national newsletter.
During National Pollinator Week, on June 21, the Pollinator Committee hosted a Pollinator Party at the Campbell County Extension Office for the local Cloverbuds club. The Cloverbuds is a 4H program designed for kids ages 5-8. Five children and two parents attended the Pollinator Party where they were able to view insect cases featuring native pollinators, make pollinator journey bracelets (a game we designed inspired by a Water Cycle activity from Project Learning Tree), and create pollinator masks that could be entered into the Campbell County Fair. This was our second year hosting a Pollinator Party for the Cloverbuds, and in 2016 the children made native bee hotels that they entered in the county fair.
On August 28, the Pollinator Committee, Master Gardeners, and University of Wyoming (UW) Extension held a Native Seed Saving Workshop at the home of a local Master Gardener and seed saver. Approximately 30 Master Gardeners and community members gathered to hear Jennifer Thompson from UW Extension in Laramie discuss how to save seeds from native plants and the importance of planting pollinator-friendly species.
The Pollinator Committee worked with the Northeast Wyoming Seed Library to add a Pollinator Drawer at the Seed Library for the 2017 planting season. The seed Library is a collection of heirloom, open-pollinated seeds that members of the community can checkout seeds from for free. The pollinator drawer contains native flowering seed collections as well as resources to help seed library patrons practice pollinator friendly gardening.
Local Website & Contact Information
Fore more information, please visit the Campbell County Master Gardener webpage!
Pollinator Committee Coordinator:
- Hannah Johnson, Campbell County Extension Agent
- (307) 682-7281
- Janie Kuntz, City of Gillette Parks Manager
- Megan McManamen, Chair
- Erin Galloway
- Linette West
- Sandi Aberle
- Patsy Larson
- Anne Ziegenhorn