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School partners with hatchery to benefit pollinators
and experience-based learning

Late summer blooms in Genoa National Fish Hatchery butterfly garden. Photo by FWS.

Late summer blooms in Genoa National Fish Hatchery butterfly garden. Photo by USFWS.

By Doug Aloisi
Genoa National Fish Hatchery

The late summer is upon us in Southwest Wisconsin, and nature has an increased sense of urgency as we sense the ending of our short growing season. Bees, butterflies and other pollinators are also working frantically to gather food and correspondingly pollinate the late summer blooms of the Genoa National Fish Hatchery.

In our butterfly garden and across the pond dikes, pollinators benefit from the plantings and garden maintenance from one of our local middle schools that prioritize environmental education. The Summit Environmental School in Lacrosse, Wisconsin for years has used the Genoa National Fish Hatchery's outdoor classroom as a source for a portion of their curriculum. They also planted and maintain the pollinator friendly species in the hatchery's butterfly garden and wetland areas to promote pollinator conservation and enhancement. In cooperation with the school, the hatchery is managing its mowing practices to promote more milkweed production, a host plant for the monarch butterfly, and other native flowering species.

Beekeepers Erica Rasmussen and James Bartsch arrive at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery to tend the honey bee hives. Photo by FWS.

Beekeepers Erica Rasmussen and James Bartsch arrive at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery to tend the honey bee hives. Photo by USFWS.

The hatchery further promotes pollinators by hosting two honey bee hives, originally an Eagle Scout project from a former Summit student. After great success in its initial year in 2018, Erica Rasmussen, a teacher at Summit is learning beekeeping from James Bartsch, the aforementioned Eagle Scout, in order to take over the reins of the project. The bees are thriving this summer, and it looks like another successful year of honey production. The hives serve as a great visual lesson for the children of Summit and other hatchery visitors to take home with them.

An active honey bee hive at Genoa National Fish Hatchery. Photo by FWS.

An active honey bee hive at Genoa National Fish Hatchery. Photo by FWS.

We look forward to seeing the results of this year’s efforts from the Summit hives, and how we can incorporate this visual into our ongoing environmental programs. Many thanks to Summit Environmental School for helping make these pollinator conservation projects successful.

Last updated: September 9, 2019