AMES, Iowa – K-12 teachers and other educators are invited to learn about Youth Pollinator Education and Action, a program to educate youth of all ages about pollinator biology, its importance and conservation. A free training opportunity will be offered Feb. 24-25 in person at Iowa Lakeside Lab in Milford. Educators can register for the 1.5-day training online using the Youth Pollinator Education and Action February Training form.
Insect pollinators such as bees and butterflies are important for maintaining the production of many food crops. Even though much of the Midwestern landscape consists of row crops, a remarkably diverse community of bees occurs in or near these agricultural ecosystems, noted Maya Hayslett, 4-H crop sciences program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
“Bees are important pollinators of Midwest fruit and vegetable crops that, while less prevalent than row crops, are an important part of the Midwest's economies, communities and food supply. Threats to insect pollinators include habitat loss, diseases and parasites, climate change and pesticide exposure,” Hayslett said.
The North Central Integrated Pest Management Center grant supports a team of educators and content experts from Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Washington that designs and implements educational experiences about pollinators for youth. The team has created lesson plans for youth in grades K-12 and provided supplies and training for these lessons to educators in Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio and Iowa. In Iowa, a grant from the Iowa 4-H Foundation has supported supplies and training for 4-H and K-12 educators.
“One goal of this youth education program is a consistent and coordinated message about the importance and conservation of pollinators,” said Lynne Campbell, 4-H education extension specialist.
The learning goals of the Youth Pollinator Education and Action program include appreciation of bees and biodiversity, awareness of the importance of pollinators and the threats to pollinators, and creating stewards of the environment. To accomplish these goals, the curriculum pulls together resources from different sources with a core set of lessons from Monarchs on the Move, the Native Bee Challenge and Mason Bee Edu, Campbell noted.
Monarchs on the Move and the Native Bee Challenge were developed at Iowa State University as part of the National 4-H Council Ag Innovators Experience. Created as a collaboration between youth educators, extension professionals and research scientists, these curricula provide research-based information and fun, hands-on activities to teach youth about pollinators. Mason Bee Edu is an instructional resource for high school science educators who want to enrich their curriculum and foster a greater understanding of pollinator biology, the importance and role of solitary bees in food production and ecosystem services, and the need for the conservation of solitary, wild bees. The modules were created by Cornell scientists in collaboration with staff from Crown Bees, a company that provides products and services for increasing native bees.
Educators attending the Pollinator Education and Action trainings commented that they appreciated the relevant content, engaging activities and utility of lessons for different audiences. One Iowa educator commented, “Lots of hands-on and engaging learning opportunities, which I love! Aligns with the standards and is relevant.”
Shareable photo: Educators participate in Pollinator Education and Action training