Central College has recently been certified as an affiliate of the Bee Campus USA program, designed to marshal the strengths of educational campuses for the benefit of pollinators. Central is the only college in Iowa to earn the designation.
The Bee Campus USA designation recognizes educational campuses that commit to a set of practices that support pollinators, including bees, butterflies, birds, bats and more.
The designation is a natural fit for Central, a leader in environmental stewardship in Iowa and the Midwest. The college’s half-acre vegetable garden has honeybee hives managed by a student bee club. The garden also features permaculture, native prairie plants and a certified monarch waystation, all providing habitat for pollinators.
In addition, Paulina Mena, associate professor of biology, works with students to observe and collect bees at the garden, the college’s field station and at sites throughout the state. The research is documenting the declining genetic diversity of the roughly 400 species of bees native to Iowa.
Aware of these efforts, students Molly Luzbetak ’18 and Madison Friedrich ’18 led the effort to receive Bee Campus USA Certification. They constructed a “bee hotel” providing habitat for wild bees, and they planned a series of bee education events connecting college experts with local school and community groups. In partnership with the college grounds crew, they developed policies restricting toxins for pest management and installed signs highlighting pollinator-friendly habitats on campus.
“This project exemplifies how sustainability is integrated into all students’ education at Central, in our academic curriculum and everyday life,” said Brian Campbell, Central’s director of sustainability education. “Students live and learn in green buildings, develop sustainability research and service projects, work in our college garden and eat local foods in Central Market.”
Said Bee Campus USA director, Phyllis Stiles, “Imperiled pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of 90 percent of the world’s wild plant and tree species. Central College is a stellar example of the influence educational institutions can have on their students and the broader community.”
For more information about Bee Campus USA: www.beecityusa.org