Dec 15, 2021
Midwest high schools receive pollinator habitat grants
Imperiled insect pollinators and monarch butterflies will get some help from high school students this year.
Sand County Foundation is awarding pollinator habitat grants to agriculture and science programs at 12 high schools.
Each school will receive native wildflower seeds and seedlings, a training webinar and consultation. Eight first-time grantees will receive $1,000 for the school district or FFA chapter to offset project expenses.
The selected schools are:
- Jane Goodall Environmental Sciences, Maple Lake, Minnesota
- Johnston High School, Johnston, Iowa
- Menomonie High School, Menomonie, Wisconsin
- Mt. Horeb High School, Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
- Nekoosa High School, Nekoosa, Wisconsin
- Northwest Education Services, Traverse City, Michigan
- Owatonna High School, Owatonna, Minnesota
- Randolph High School. Randolph, Wisconsin
- Reedsville High School, Reedsville, Wisconsin
- Thomas Edison High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Union Grove High School, Union Grove, Wisconsin
- West Lyon Community School District, Inwood, Iowa
“Our objective is to engage students in adding native wildflower diversity to the agricultural landscape for the benefit of pollinators,” said Parker Witt, Sand County Foundation Agricultural Conservation Specialist. “Pollinators are essential for crop pollination and ecological diversity, but the numbers of wild bees, honey bees and monarch butterflies have dropped, partly because of the loss of native wildflower habitat near farmland.”
To qualify for the grants, schools need greenhouses or suitable indoor growing areas to germinate and raise the nearly 600 seedlings of milkweed, prairie blazing star, wild bergamot, and other species they will receive in March. They are also required to identify and prepare a location to transplant these native wildflowers in the spring, and tend to them through the summer. In addition to the wildflowers they transplant, schools are given prairie seed for sowing to increase biodiversity at the planting site.
“We encouraged applicants to find a site on or near agricultural land,” Witt said.
“From the interest in this program it’s clear that teachers, students and landowners in the Midwest care about the plight of pollinators and monarchs,” he added.
Educators and landowners interested in becoming involved in the project are encouraged to contact Parker Witt at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In addition to the grant program, all teachers can access a Pollinator Habitat Curriculum Guide developed through a partnership between Sand County Foundation and Earth Partnership at the University of Wisconsin.
The guide’s 28 activities, aligned with state and national education standards, engage students in planning, establishing, managing and monitoring prairie habitat for insect pollinators and grassland birds. The guide is available for free download at https://bit.ly/2JHdq1u.
Above, Students from Lodi High School planting native wildflowers to benefit pollinators. Photo: Casey Langan