How Bee Campus USA – Abilene Christian University Is Transforming Its Campus Into Pollinator Heaven

Hunter Welcome Center goes native to welcome butterflies and bees!  Photos: Gayenell Rainwater
Many college landscape directors belong to the Professional Grounds Management Society. The Society’s September/October newsletter, Grounds Management Forum,  featured the article below.  We hope the first few paragraphs will entice you to read this beautifully written story of one ground manager’s and one campus’ awakening to landscaping for pollinators.

by Gayenell Rainwater, Abilene Christian University

How many of you have ever heard of a Bee Campus? If you listen to the news at all, in the last few years you have no doubt heard about the decline in the monarch migration. You may have heard of Colony Collapse in honeybees? You may have heard about the fact that many species of bees are becoming extinct? All pollinators are facing global decline due to habitat loss, chemical exposure, or poor nutrition. We, as human beings, are causing this decline. You have the power to reverse this decline. Simple changes, in the way you landscape and what plants you choose can have a profound effect on not only pollinators, but on people. 

How many of you have a pollinator garden on campus or choose native species for your landscaping? Then you too, can become an accredited Bee Campus. If I may, I would like to share our story…. While I would like to say that becoming a Bee Campus was intentional, and I would love to take the credit, saying it was my diligence and forward thinking, seeking to forge a name in sustainable environmental practices, I have to admit it was almost an accident. The opportunity came about due to other circumstances. First, I would like to talk about the monarch butterfly a little bit because this is what actually led to us becoming a Bee Campus. About 3 years ago, I heard a speaker at ULMA (the University Landscape Manager Association) meeting. Thea Junt, from University of Texas at Dallas, gave a talk on monarch way stations. She is a very motivating speaker, had great slides, and best of all showed a project that students would be interested in. I came back, very determined for Abilene Christian to have a monarch way station. It started out very simply. We chose Hunter Welcome Center because of its sprawling porch and the fact that we have many visitors here every year, we wanted it to be visible. We had a couple of small beds that had needed a makeover, due to the fact, that many of the plants chosen for that area were not suitable for our soils, climate, or effluent water. 
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The Professional Grounds Management Society will hold its annual conference October 16-19, 2018, and Mike Oxendine, former Landscape Supervisor for Southern Oregon University, will be there making a presentation about how SOU instigated the Bee Campus USA program in 2015.

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