Plants for Pollinators in the Classroom
The application deadline for the 2013 "Plants
for Pollinators in the Classroom" program has passed. Please check back in the fall for the 2014 application brochure.
Applications will be due in late January, 2014.
2013 announcement flyer
The "Plants for Pollinators in the Classroom" program began in 2009 as a partnership between the Assunpink Environmental Institute and the Mercer County Soil Conservation District. In the spring of 2010, the program expanded to include classrooms in Middlesex and Monmouth Counties. The program seeks to raise awareness about the important services provided by pollinators and the need to increase suitable habitat for native bees and other pollinators. Teachers can apply to receive a "Plants for Pollinators in the Classroom" (PPIC) resource kit containing a two-tiered plant stand with grow lamps, potting soil, seeds and other materials needed to help the students grow butterfly-attracting plants which they later transplant into their schoolyards. Teaching materials, lesson ideas, and posters are also included in the resource kits.
See below for a press release about the program and for helpful web resources about gardening for butterflies and other pollinators.
The MCSCD and AEI would like to thank the businesses and organizations listed
below for helping to make this program a success.
We are currently seeking sponsors for next year's Plants for Pollinators program in Mercer County. Please contact the Education Coordinator at 609-586-9603 to find out how you can support this program and help local children explore the joys of gardening for pollinators.
and Pollintator Resources
June 2012 PRESS RELEASE:
Classrooms and Schoolyards Buzz with Excitement About Pollinators
|Press Release, April 1, 2011|
What's Buzzing in Mercer
Seven Schools Awarded "Plants for Pollinators" Kits in 2011.
As the warm weather arrives, many people are eager to plant their gardens. If you aren't a gardener, at the very least you might be eager to savor fresh produce from your neighbor's garden or the local farm. Many of our fruits and vegetables would not be possible without the services provided by the often-overlooked garden workers known as pollinators. While the European honeybee is our most widely used pollinator for large-scale crop production, susceptibility to pathogens and recent declines due to colony collapse disorder have stirred up new interest and research about the valuable services provided by alternative pollinators, such as native bees.
This spring, students in seven Mercer County schools will be doing their part to increase suitable habitat for native bees, butterflies and other pollinators through a program called "Plants for Pollinators in the Classroom," coordinated by the Mercer County Soil Conservation District (MCSCD) and the Assunpink Environmental Institute (AEI). This program provides an indoor plant growing system to help students study seed germination and plant growth while raising butterfly plants. The plants will later be planted in their schoolyards. Some students will create a new pollinator garden at their school, while others will increase plant diversity in an existing school garden. Teachers from the following schools have been awarded "Plants for Pollinators in the Classroom" growing systems and resource kits in 2011: BC Gregory Elementary, Joyce Kilmer Elementary, and Paul Robeson Charter School in Trenton, Community Park Elementary School in Princeton, Ethel McKnight Elementary School in East Windsor, Trenton Catholic Academy in Hamilton, and Village Elementary School in West Windsor.
The following organizations and businesses provided support and/or donations to make the program possible: Mercer County Community College Horticulture Club, Terhune Orchards, Mercer County Board of Agriculture, Timothy's Center for Gardening, Kale's Nursery and Landscape Service, Home Depot of West Windsor, The Contemporary Club of Trenton, and the Master Gardeners of Mercer County.
There are an estimated 800 native bee species in the eastern US, including
several bumble bee species, leaf-cutter bees, sweat bees, orchard bees and
mining bees. Unlike honeybees, most native bees nest individually in the ground
or in hollow twigs rather than in large colonies. Since they do not have a
hive to defend, native bees tend to be less noticeable and less aggressive
than honey bees. There are some crops for which the honey bee is best suited,
however, on smaller diversified farms and in backyard gardens, native bees
can be efficient pollinators for tomatoes, apples, squash and watermelons,
not to mention flowers and many native plants. Whether you own a large farm
or a small backyard, you can help create more suitable habitat for native
pollinators by managing your land to support a diversity of plants and micro-habitats
rather than a mono-culture of lawn containing only turf grasses. Having a
vibrant community of native pollinators can act as a type of insurance policy
for times when honey bees are less available.
For more information about pollinators or National Pollinator Week from June 20 - June 26, 2011, visit http://www.pollinator.org/.
For information about the MCSCD "Plants for Pollinators" program or the family-friendly Pollinator Picnic planned for June 24, 2011, call the Mercer County Soil Conservation District at (609) 586-9603.