Bee Campus USA announced March 4 that Morehead State University is the fifth institution of higher education 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.
“We are proud to be named the fifth certified Bee Campus USA in the nation. There already are many students, faculty and staff working on pollinator health and sustainability issues and the members of our newly formed Bee Campus USA Committee will provide good leadership to these pollinator conservation efforts,” said Wayne Andrews, MSU president.
"Imperiled pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of more than two-thirds of the world’s plant and tree species. Morehead State University is a stellar example of the influence educational institutions can have on their students and larger communities. Their talented faculty, staff, and students offer an invaluable resource for Kentuckians in seeking ways to manage ornamental landscapes in more wildlife-friendly ways,” said Phyllis Stiles, Bee Campus USA director.
According to Holly Neihoff, sustainability and safety specialist, MSU developed its campus Pollinator Protection Plan for its 1200-acre landscape to include a locally native and pollinator friendly plant list with regional sources for plants. The Plan is posted on the MSU Earthwise Eagles webpage, which will be updated regularly. In keeping with Bee Campus USA commitments, MSU already utilizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, using pesticide very selectively and only as a last resort and some of MSU’s designated pollinator gardens already have educational signage about the contribution of bees.
Donnie Willoughby, landscaping and grounds manager, is excited about the events MSU has planned to celebrate and fulfill the responsibilities of its Bee Campus USA certification on March 22 and 30 and April 1 and 16. Activities include planting native trees and other plants in the new Carbon Pocket Park outdoor classroom adjacent to the Space Science Center, installing new educational signage about protecting pollinators, and showing the movie “Vanishing of the Bees.”
All events will be published in MSU’s school news, website, and social media.
Niehoff will provide a training workshop and information on pollinator protection and habitats at the annual community Town and County event held at the Rowan County High School. MSU’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety will provide training on proper pesticide use and application for MSU’s ground maintenance employees and farm/orchard employees in April (and annually thereafter).
“Through ongoing dialogue among members of the Bee Campus USA committee, Morehead State University strives to be a student and a teacher of sustainable practices. Its membership includes faculty, students and operations and maintenance staff. Our goal is to model pollinator-friendliness in our landscaping practices by incorporating as many locally native plants as possible, eliminating the use of invasive species, and expanding naturalized habitat to reduce the amount of managed turf grass,” said Amy Lentz, horticultural supervisor.
April Haight, MSU’s Center for Environmental Education director, looks forward to sponsoring and tracking annual student service-learning projects to enhance pollinator habitats on and off campus. Service learning projects for 2016 include an all-day field trip for K-12 local schools. In partnership with MSU’s Department of Biology and the Forest Service, they will teach local students about pollinator habitats and protection.
Dr. Jen O’Keefe, associate professor of geology and science education, recently presented workshops at the local Beekeeping School about her work typing honey by studying pollen spores from the MSU Farm’s honey harvest over the past three years, information that can be used to identify the types of pollen the honeybees prefer.