Hildene to Launch Educational Program: Pollinators and People
This spring Hildene will launch a pilot program called ‘Gardens for Monarchs and Bees,’ where students will learn about the importance of pollinators, including who they are and the threats they face. Most importantly, students will take action on their school grounds to promote and protect them. Participating area schools are Dorset Elementary, Manchester Elementary and Arlington’s Fisher School.
Pollinators and people need each other. The need is dramatic and the numbers speak volumes. One of every three bites of food humans eat is from crops
pollinated by insects, primarily bees. Nearly 75% of all plants on earth rely on pollinators (butterflies, bees, moths, beetles, birds and bats) for pollination. Without them, the world’s crops would be imperiled, but these insects that we depend on are under siege.
Honeybees, for example, have thrived on earth for 50 million years, but since the advent of industrial agriculture, they have been losing ground. There are now half as many managed
colonies in the U.S. as there were just 70 years ago – down to two million. Data for another insect, the Monarch butterfly, is similarly grim. The population is the lowest on record, 33 million, down from last year’s record low of 60 million.
These iconic pollinators and others face threats that include the loss of habitat from development, disease and the widespread use of herbicides and pesticides on crops, roadsides, pastures, lawns and gardens.
In the case of the monarch, milkweed is the only plant that is eaten during the caterpillar stage, and it is disappearing from the landscape as a result of human activity.
Hildene’s mission: Values into Action is about making a difference in the world. This commitment coupled with the growing awareness of the plight of the pollinators prompted Hildene to offer schools this program, free of charge.
Students will learn to recognize existing pollinator habitat on their school grounds, expanding it by planting nectar and pollen-rich plants with different blooming times, including milkweed, supplied by Hildene. The students will also focus attention on increasing pollinator nesting sites. In so doing these students begin to make a difference for the pollinators.
To learn more about Hildene’s Gardens for Monarchs and Bees program, contact Diane Newton, Education Director at 802-367-7965, or you may send an email to [email protected]