COMPONENTS OF A POLLINATOR GARDEN
N.D. Pinson and L. Barber, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, Seffner, FL
Situation: Pollinators are important because an estimated 1/3 of the food we eat comes from animal pollinated plants. They help increase fruit set, quality and size, which also translates to economic impacts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014 estimated bee pollinated commodities accounted for $20 billion in annual U.S. agricultural production. Methods: Recognizing that pollinators are important, three members of Girl Scout Troop #360 worked in partnership with the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County to plant a pollinator demonstration garden while earning their Silver Awards. Silver Awards encourage the cadets to design their own community project and understand how the project impacts their community. Obtaining the award requires completing an approved cause and issue service project of at least 50 volunteer hours. In addition to planting the pollinator garden, the Girl Scouts wrote newspaper articles and press releases, installed microirrigation, created a pollinator display and provided docent tours. Children and their parents can check out pollinator backpacks that contain insect and flower sketch plates, field identification cards, magnifying lenses and books. Results: Girl Scouts, Master Gardener volunteers and Extension faculty partnered to create and maintain the garden. Youth involved were responsible for watering, weeding, pruning and integrated pest management. During 2016, more than 1,000 people visited the Extension demonstration gardens. Conclusion: Involving youth in creating pollinator demonstration gardens is a win-win for the Girl Scouts, Extension and local residents who can learn from the examples displayed. Any Extension office can work with their local Girl Scouts or other organizations to promote pollinator gardens. These gardens can teach residents and youth how to attract pollinators to their landscapes, while reducing negative environmental impacts associated with landscape management practices.
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