Are you a friend of pollinators? Here are ways to stay engaged

Looking for ways to stay connected with others who share the same interests and hobbies? If you’re interested in pollinators, the Center for Rural Affairs has many opportunities for you in 2020.

We depend on nature’s resources for our very survival; these are a few ways we can give back.

Women’s Learning Circles

This year, we are hosting a series of four learning circles focusing on pollinators. The second event will be online, and is coming up on May 12, with a focus on Nebraska’s Diverse Pollinators. More information can be found here.

In late March, we held our first Women’s Learning Circle on the topic of Early Blooming Plants for Pollinators. The event was originally scheduled to take place at Great Plains Nursery, near Weston, Nebraska. However, the virtual event allowed for a more geographically diverse audience to attend.

Women’s Learning Circles bring together a group of women beekeepers, landowners, and others who are interested in pollinators and plants, in an open peer-to-peer environment.

Those present learned about the native focus that Great Plains Nursery maintains for their trees and shrubs, from owner Heather Byers. We learned easy ways we can close the bloom gaps in our yards (so there’s always something blooming for the pollinators) and other tips for specific plantings and practices we can act on, which can benefit pollinators’ health and our own livelihoods.

More information on Nebraska's native trees and shrubs can be found on Great Plains Nursery's website, Audubon Nebraska's website, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum's website, or Xerces Society's website.

Facebook group

The momentum from the first online Women's Learning Circle is being carried forward in the form of a new Facebook group called “Nebraska Friends of Pollinators.” This group is open to anyone (regardless of gender), where photos, experiences, and questions/answers can be shared.

Not only will future Center for Rural Affairs’ events be shared within the group, but additional pollinator events and opportunities from other organizations will also be highlighted. Members are sharing beekeeping updates and native pollinator observations, among other posts.

Bumble Bee Atlas

Looking for another way to help pollinators? The Xerces Society is looking for volunteers for their Bumble Bee Atlas, a citizen science project aimed at tracking and conserving the native bumble bee populations of Nebraska. This project might be of particular interest this year, with the need to get out of the house for physical and mental engagement greater than ever.

Katie Lamke, bumble bee conservation specialist, explains the project’s goal for 2020 is “to expand beyond Nebraska’s metropolitan and gain volunteers in the state’s central and western communities. Having a team of volunteers throughout the state is the key to success for this project.” While they had great participation in 2019, there are many high interest areas that were not surveyed. While anyone can contribute, if you are located in certain areas (or can travel there), your participation may be of extra need and value.

To become a volunteer, visit nebraskabumblebeeatlas.org to familiarize yourself with the project and access the training materials. Once trained, you’ll be able to adopt a grid cell and complete a minimum of two surveys between June and September.

For those of you who live outside of Nebraska, Xerces Society has opportunities in almost every part of the country. Click here to learn more.

Feature photo: A bumble bee on a wildflower at Niobrara State Park in northern Nebraska in early September 2019.  |  Photo by Rhea Landholm