Teaching Youth about Pollinators

Last Thursday Soni and I spent the day teaching 4th and 5th graders about pollinators at the Outdoor Discovery Program held every year at Platte River State Park hosted by Nebraska Game and Parks. The day started out chilly, but by afternoon we were able to see many pollinators and the kids were able to stretch out in the grassy area and work in their field journals. We found out the attending youth knew what pollination means, what pollinators are and how they are important.  What we were able to add to their knowledge was very interesting to them.  We discussed native pollinators and showed them nesting bee blocks with the leaf cutter bees still in them ready to emerge. The importance of early blooming plants, like dandelions, which they considered weeds, was a surprise to them. The discussion turned to what food crops needed pollinators to produce, like tomatoes, apples and almonds. By the end of each session, the kids had a better understanding of our native pollinators and how their habitat is important to protect.  It was a very fun day for all of us and it is great to partner with Nebraska Game and Parks in youth outdoor education.

MJ Frogge

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Milkweed and Monarchs

Milkweed plants

Milkweed plants in the Cherry Creek Habitat.

Milkweed and Monarchs are in the news today.  The Lincoln Journal has a nice article on the Monarch Plan that the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and other groups, including Nebraska Extension, started last year during the Monarch Summit.  Planting milkweed is a priority.  Read more:

http://journalstar.com/news/local/milkweed-by-the-masses-nebraska-eyes-new-habitat-goal-for/article_dd05728c-c304-597f-a500-778c3e2f4d18.html

Monarchs have also been sighted in Nebraska!  They are very early and there is concern for them due to April’s inconsistent weather. Read more:

Not Yet, Monarchs, Not Yet!

The common milkweed is up in the Cherry Creek Habitat and in my habitat at home as well. Consider planting more milkweed in your habitat this year. There are several different ones to plant. The flowers are unique and beautiful.

MJ Frogge

If you are interested in keeping track of the Monarch Migration, you can do that with Monarch Watch. http://www.monarchwatch.org/tagmig/index.htm

Want to become a citizen scientist? Learn more about Milkweed Watch. http://milkweedwatch.unl.edu/

Make Your Own Bee House

You still have time this spring to build your own bee house for solitary bees like leaf cutter bees.  It does not need to be as large as the one located in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

The NebGuide: Creating a Solitary Bee Hotel will help you make one.  Start today!

http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/g2256.pdf

MJ Frogge

Four sizes of bee houses. Pick a size that works best in your habitat.

Four sizes of bee houses. Pick one that works best in your habitat.

beehouseJackMorris

Master Gardener Jack’s bee house.

tombeehouse

Master Gardener Tom’s bee house.

What is Blooming in April?

What is blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat in April? Today I found pasque flower, wild plum, redbud and dandelions. Yes, we have dandelions in the pollinator habitat.  They are a great early blooming plant for pollinators.  I found tiny native bees visiting the plants.  Let a few plants remain and bloom in your habitat.  Remove the dead flowers before they go to seed.

MJ Frogge

Nebraskans Care About Pollinators

Nearly 70 people attended the Pollinator Class and Open House last night at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat located at the Lancaster County Extension Office. Those attending included Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification members, Master Gardeners and citizens from several southeastern Nebraska communities who wanted to know more about pollinators and the Habitat Certification program.  After a habitat tour, delicious food and a power point program on the benefits of pollinators, the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Team held a Q&A session. Great discussion and concern expressed on how to help pollinators and increase habitat. A perfect evening!

MJ Frogge