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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Small in size, but big in partnerships

Region 3, August 28, 2019
Learning Station fun!
Learning Station fun! - Photo Credit: n/a
Partners biologist Rick Ward distributing plugs for planting.
Partners biologist Rick Ward distributing plugs for planting. - Photo Credit: n/a
4-H youth ambassadors finish planting plugs.
4-H youth ambassadors finish planting plugs. - Photo Credit: n/a

Corteva Agriscience/Dupont Pioneer is a seed corn production facility in Marshall County, Indiana. The facility has a long history of habitat restoration and management, mostly through the Partners for Fish & Wildlife Program. The property is located along US Highway 30 near Plymouth, Indiana and the habitat areas are highly visible from the highway.

In October of 2018, the Partners biologist was contacted by the Pheasants Forever biologist. Corteva Agriscience, Pheasants Forever and 4-H have developed a national partnership to plant pollinator habitat on Corteva facilities, with Pheasants Forever providing technical assistance and funding and 4-H providing education to elementary students as 4-H teen ambassadors.

After several months of meetings, phone calls and long email strings, a plan was developed to prepare and plant 2.4 acres of pollinator habitat in a turf grass area along US 30.

The site was mowed and sprayed twice with herbicide in the spring of 2019. Then, a diverse, pollinator-friendly seed mix was planted by no-till drill May 20th. This is where the big partnership becomes apparent! Corteva Agriscience provided the herbicide. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program paid a local contractor to do the spraying and planting. The Marshall County Soil and Water Conservation District purchased the seed mix. The Marshall County Chapter of Pheasants Forever purchased materials for goose exclusion fencing, because the planting is near a wetland and geese frequently graze in the turf grass areas. Corteva staff installed the fencing. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife, paid the contractor for post-planting mowing. That completes a typical prairie planting, however, this project was not yet finished!

The Pollinator Partnership provided native forb plant plugs. 4-H put together a field day for 4-H youth and families to visit the project site, learn about pollinators and habitat, and help plant the plugs to supplement the seed planting. 4-H also recruited adult volunteers and 4-H youth ambassadors. On June 1st, 62 4-H youth, families, ambassadors and Corteva employee volunteers, joined the Partners biologist to plant the plugs. The youth also visited a series of learning stations to have fun and learn about pollinators.

The weather was awesome and everyone had a good time learning and planting plugs. The project got the kids right in nature, digging in the soil. Pollinators will benefit as the site develops and 4-H will continue to take young folks out to the site. Being visible from the highway gets the attention and interest of a lot of people. It took a big group effort to complete this 2.4 acre planting, but the impact on pollinator habitat and the education of the younger kids makes it all worth it!

Contact Info: Rick Ward, 574-896-3999, rick_ward@fws.gov