Pollinator Habitat Project Offers Hands-On Learning For Wayne Youth

Pollinator Habitat Project Offers Hands-On Learning For Wayne Youth
Wayne Elementary Fifth Grade and Fifth/Sixth Grade St. Mary's students at Izaak Walton League Lake.

WAYNE – Following a two-year break due to COVID, a pollinator habitat outreach project made a return sponsored by the Logan Creek Chapter of Pheasants Forever (LCPF).

From the Izaak Walton League Lake, the Fifth overall pollinator program was held Monday afternoon and featured Wayne elementary fifth graders as well as St. Mary’s fifth and sixth grade students.

A total of 85 elementary students gathered Monday afternoon to plant a native prairie while learning about pollinators, plants and prairie ecosystems.

Scott Brummond, Membership Chairman and past President, said the group first started with a pollinator pizza project.

“What the program is about is we’re trying to teach kids where some of our food comes and how it comes to be,” said Brummond. “Bees, butterflies and insects pollinate different foods that we eat and without those pollinators those foods won’t be available.”

The teachers were given some curriculum they taught in the classroom prior to the hands-on event where the pizza ingredients were slowly picked off since pollinators are needed to made them.

The Nebraska Game and Parks tilled the ground at the Thomsen/Barnes Wildlife Management Area.

The group then moved over to the management area to plant several different types of wildflower and native grass seeds in a half-acre plot.

“It’s interesting for the kids,” Brummond added. “It’s something they can bring their kids out here in 20 or 30 years and say ‘back when I was a little kid in fifth grade we planted this.'”

Joining Brummond were Liz Onderstal, Logan Creek Chapter; Marty Marx and Don Preston from the NRCS as well as Mark Hammer, a Wayne State College professor and expert in botanist.

Upcoming in the fall will be a youth mentor hunt including a live hunt. In July to early August there’ll be a Hunter Education course which will need to be passed.

“Usually the two weeks before the opening pheasants season, we have a youth mentor hunt where kids 12-15 can come out and experience hunting,” Brummond mentioned. “We have like 6-8 stations.”

Free Pollinator Program t-shirts were provided to all students as the afternoon ended with NRCS staff giving a tour of previous plots pointing out wildflowers and grasses from seedings.

Approximately one-third of all food consumed by humans is delivered by pollinators, including fruits, vegetables, nuts and coffee. Habitat necessary for rapidly declining populations of honey bees and monarch butterflies is also the very same diverse grassland and prairie flower habitat necessary for pheasants, quail and a host of other wildlife species. Likewise, the insects produced in this habitat are the primary food source for pheasant/quail chicks during their first months of life.

Pheasants Forever’s Pollinator Habitat Outreach Program is made possible by funding support from Corteva, Bayer, USFWS, Bass Pro Shop’s and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, Pollinator Partnership, Monarch Joint Venture, Timberlyne and the organization’s local volunteer chapter.

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