Home
Field Notes
 
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
If you build it, they will come… Minnesota school pollinator garden one year later
Midwest Region, December 7, 2017
Print Friendly Version
One of many Monarch butterfly caterpillars observed on swamp milkweed plants in established pollinator garden.
One of many Monarch butterfly caterpillars observed on swamp milkweed plants in established pollinator garden. - Photo Credit: J. Utrup, USFWS
School pollinator garden during planting in spring 2016 on the left and in bloom during summer 2017 on the right.  The area was planted in 2016 with native grass and forb seeds and plugs.
School pollinator garden during planting in spring 2016 on the left and in bloom during summer 2017 on the right. The area was planted in 2016 with native grass and forb seeds and plugs. - Photo Credit: J. Utrup, USFWS
New planting in front of the school; during planting on the left and wildflowers in full bloom later in the summer on the right.
New planting in front of the school; during planting on the left and wildflowers in full bloom later in the summer on the right. - Photo Credit: J. Utrup, USFWS
Students make log bee houses to be added around the school grounds.
Students make log bee houses to be added around the school grounds. - Photo Credit: J. Utrup, USFWS

In 2016, students from Impact Academy at Orchard Lake Elementary in Lakeville, Minnesota learned about the decline of pollinators and decided to help. With the help of the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and Ecological Service Minnesota/Wisconsin Field Office students planted a large pollinator garden with hopes of helping imperiled species such as the rusty patched bumble bee and monarch butterfly. Planning and planting of the garden was viewed by the school’s teachers and principal as a huge success and just the beginning in the development of an outdoor classroom for the school.


For Impact Academy’s spring service-learning project during the 2016-2017 school year, students decided to do more to help pollinators, specifically native bees, on the school property. They researched bee houses and learned about how these houses may benefit bees in providing additional nesting habitat, especially for solitary bees. The school once again contacted the Minnesota/Wisconsin Field Office on potential bee house design ideas. Ultimately, they decided to build bee houses out of logs. The bee houses were placed near the now established pollinator garden and throughout the school grounds. They also made a larger insect hotel that was set next to the garden, which will attract not only bees, but other beneficial insects as well, such as many different species of beetles and spiders.


Over the past summer, Girl Scout troops and a Cub Scout pack (both based out of Impact Academy) beautified the front of the Orchard Lake Elementary school by planting more native plants that provided additional habitat for pollinators. The Scouts then helped the plants thrive by watering them until established.


The impressive diversity of wildflowers from the new planting and the well established pollinator garden has proven very successful in attracting pollinators. Monarch butterfly caterpillars were found over the summer munching on several large patches of swamp milkweed that popped up from the previous year’s planting. Both plantings were “a buzz” with bumble bees nectaring on wildflowers throughout the blooming period. The students know it’s just a matter of time before the rusty patched bumble bee finds the school’s gardens! Wildlife such as gray tree frogs and a painted turtle have also been observed using the newly created habitat in front of the school.

 

The Impact Academy students are very proud of their pollinator gardens and excited to expand the amount of habitat in future years. By working together and researching the problem and potential solutions, students at have made a difference for pollinators on their school grounds and beyond.


Contact Info: Jill Utrup, 952-252-0092, ext. 207, jill_utrup@fws.gov
Find a Field Notes Entry

Search by keyword

Search by State




Search by Region


US Fish and Wildlife Service footer