Last week Saint Michael’s College and Bee Campus USA announced that Saint Michael’s was the 23rd educational institution in the nation to be certified as an affiliate of the Bee Campus USA program, designed to marshal the strengths of educational campuses for the benefit of pollinators.
College students, faculty, administrators, and staff have long been among the nation's most stalwart champions for sustainable environmental practices. Saint Michael’s Director of Sustainability Heather Lynch said, “Working to create a landscape on campus that acknowledges the vital role pollinators play in our ecosystem and future is of the utmost importance. By setting up our campus as a living-learning laboratory, we are able to engage our entire campus in practices that support a healthy habitat for our pollinators.”
Said Bee Campus USA director, Phyllis Stiles, "Imperiled pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of ninety percent of the world’s wild plant and tree species. Saint Michael’s College is a stellar example of the influence educational institutions can have on their students and the broader community. Their talented faculty, staff and students offer an invaluable resource for Chittenden County residents in seeking ways to manage ornamental landscapes in more wildlife-friendly ways.”
Next fall, to raise awareness about the plight of pollinators, Shelby Kemp ’20, student employee in the Office of Sustainability who has been focusing on all things Bee Campus, will be working on creating a webpage to disseminate information to the campus and external communities including the college’s Campus Pollinator Habitat Plan, a list of native plants incorporated into the campus landscape including their bloom time and habitat needs, links to student research into pollinator issues, and information about upcoming events. More information is forthcoming.
Julia Wagner ’18, Bee Campus committee member, said she is excited about what the certification means for the college and greater community. “With the increasingly evident consequences of climate change and the divisive political climate surrounding environmental issues, it is incredibly important to raise awareness to the threats facing our natural world, specifically our ecosystems and endangered species. Becoming a certified Bee Campus is a step in the right direction not only to spread information about environmental issues but also to take an active part in changing the outcomes that threaten the integrity of the environment. With a third of the world's agricultural crops dependent on pollinators such as the bumble bee who is on the endangered species list, Saint Michael's College now has the opportunity to protect these pollinators and the ecosystems that they support.”
She said the entire Bee Campus committee is excited about the opportunities for student research and service-learning. Already faculty, staff and students have worked together to study and create pollinator habitat with native plants on campus. Last summer a student-designed pollinator garden was planted at the college’s Permaculture Farm. The project was the result of an academic internship Karla Clithero ’16 completed under the guidance of Heather Lynch.
According to Stiles, each certified campus must reapply each year and report on accomplishments from the previous year.
About Bee Campus USA and Bee City USA
The Bee Campus USA designation recognizes educational campuses that commit to a set of practices that support pollinators, including bees, butterflies, birds, and bats, among thousands of other species. For more information about the application process for becoming a Bee Campus USA affiliate, visit http://www.beecityusa.org/application-campus.html.
Bee City USA® urges local governments, individuals, organizations, corporations, and communities to promote and establish pollinator–friendly landscapes that are free of pesticides. Since its inception in Asheville, North Carolina in 2012, many cities have been certified across the nation and many others are in the process of preparing applications. For more information about the application process for becoming a Bee City USA community, visit http://www.beecityusa.org/application-city.html.