Sacramento Fish & Wildlife OfficeServing the people, conserving the fish, wildlife, and plants of California
June 22, 2017
Ten years ago the United States Senate's unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as "National Pollinator Week" marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services they provide.
On June 17, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (Service) Reno Office teamed up with more than a dozen partner organizations for their 3rd Annual Biggest Little Pollinator Garden. The event, located at the Fleischmann Agriculture Building courtyard on the University of Reno campus, was a family oriented learning environment complete with garden tours, bug petting zoos, pollinator talks from local experts, native bee and butterfly specimens, plant scavenger hunt for kids, plant giveaways, and more.
Sarah Kulpa, a Service botanist assigned to the Reno office is one of the founders of the event along with Nevada Bugs and Butterflies, UNR Natural History Museum and the Nevada State Arboretum. Kulpa, though, is the driving force behind the annual event.
"The Pollinator Week event in Reno celebrates the valuable ecosystem services provided by our bees, bats, butterflies, birds, and beetles. It also introduces people to our native Nevada plants and how they can provide these ecosystem services for our pollinators, even in a garden setting," she said.
Kulpa said she begins planning for the June event as early as January when she stars the recruitment process for partner agencies. Very little funding is needed for the event, as all participants are volunteers. She credits a lot of "blood, sweat, and tears" along with a small amount of material funding from the Service for plant seeds and decomposed granite for plants.
This year's event featured a host of activities for kids including; a native plant scavenger hunt, a bug petting zoo sponsored by Nevada Bugs and Butterflies, face painting by a local artist, a prize wheel for completing the scavenger hunt, pipe cleaner bumble bee art, and much more. Not to be left out, parents were treated to free seminars by UNR professors and Service biologists on gardening and pollinators and were given free native plants to add to or begin their own pollinator gardens.
At the heart of the event is the pollinator garden planted three years ago by Kulpa and a handful of volunteers. Consisting entirely of native plants, an area that used to be weeds, dirt, turf and rocks is now a kaleidoscope of eye-popping colors attracting pollinators and students alike. Every spring since then, another garden has been planted by Kulpa and crew making up nearly 70 different native plants and about a half an acre of native pollinator gardens on the UNR campus.
Her normal duties with the Service, and maintenance on the current gardens alone is more than enough to keep her and her volunteers busy, but for Kulpa this is just the beginning. She's already looking ahead to next year’s event and adding a native cactus garden to the UNR campus.
"We have a lot of cold, hardy cacti that are resistant to the weather in Northern Nevada and we have a steep, sunny slope [on campus] that they will thrive on. It seemed like the perfect place for the creation of a super low maintenance pollinator garden," she said.
Scientists estimate that pollinators are responsible for bringing us one in every three bites of food that we eat. By planting a native, pollinator-friendly garden you are making a difference for monarchs, honey bees, bumble bees and other pollinators. According to Kulpa, that’s the ultimate goal of National Pollinator Week and the message that the Service and their partners hope to spread with events like the Biggest Little Pollinator Garden.
by Joseph Barker, USFWS
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Last updated: January 3, 2018