Portland Community College Named 4th Bee Campus USA in Nation!

PicturePCC’s Rock Creek Campus Learning Garden

Portland Community College and Bee Campus USA have announced that Portland Community College is the fourth institution of higher education in the nation to be certified as an affiliate of the Bee Campus USA program, designed to marshal the strengths of educational campuses for the benefit of pollinators.

College students, faculty, administrators, and staff have long been among the nation’s most stalwart champions for sustainable environmental practices. Portland Community College Interim President Sylvia Kelley said, “We are proud to be named the fourth certified Bee Campus USA in the nation. There are already many students, faculty and staff working on pollinator health and sustainability issues and the members of our newly formed Bee Campus USA Committee will provide good leadership to these pollinator conservation efforts. PCC students and faculty are excited about our Bee Campus efforts across our five campuses and four centers.”

Said Bee Campus USA director, Phyllis Stiles, “Imperiled pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of more than two-thirds of the world’s plant and tree species. Portland Community College is a stellar example of the influence community colleges can have on their students and larger communities. Their talented faculty, staff, and students offer an invaluable resource for the entire community seeking ways to manage ornamental landscapes in more wildlife-friendly ways.”

According to Anne LeSenne, PCC Landscape Technology Program support technician at the Rock Creek Campus, Portland Community College plans to develop a Campus Pollinator Habitat Plan for its combined 412-acre landscape to include a locally native and pollinator friendly plant list with regional sources for plants. In keeping with Bee Campus USA commitments, PCC already utilizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices at all of their sites, meets or exceeds Oregon State IPM statutes, and uses the most Earth/pollinator friendly products. PCC staff are regularly educated on best IPM practices and chemicals (used as a last resort) are on the low impact list. Each certified campus is expected to post educational signage in appropriate places. For example signs in the cafeteria might explain the role of pollinators in food production. Some of PCC’s designated pollinator gardens already have educational signage about the bees at work.
PCC Interim Sustainability Manager Briar Schoon said, “Through ongoing dialogue among members of the Bee Campus USA subcommittee, Portland Community College will become a student and a teacher of sustainable practices. Its membership includes faculty, students and operations and maintenance staff. Our goal is to model pollinator-friendliness in our landscaping practices by incorporating as many locally native plants as possible.” Schoon continued, “College-wide, we have two established learning gardens and two in development where we grow herbicide and pesticide-free produce for staff, students and the greater community. The Rock Creek garden grew enough food to supply a weekly farm stand, campus food service, and campus and community food banks with more than 11,000 pounds of fresh produce in 2015. In 2014, the Rock Creek Campus initiated a fundraising program called ‘Flowergrams.’ Bouquets of flowers grown in our Learning Garden and on campus can be purchased and delivered to staff, students and faculty for a small fee. The program has increased the plantings in the garden as well as fostered more conversations about replacing grass with more pockets of perennial flowerbeds on campus grounds. The Sylvania Campus is also home to a robust learning garden which focuses on smaller scale food production as well as butterfly and other pollinator habitat. Other campuses are installing perennial fruits and other edible plantings in the coming year.”

“The ‘Organic Gardening’ class at the Rock Creek Campus uses the learning gardens extensively and has installed native bee houses.”  Biology Instructor Jaimie Powell

Biology Instructor Jaimie Powell said, “We believe Bee Campus USA certification will provide our college with an important platform for fostering wider conversations on and off-campus regarding pollinator awareness and initiating student service projects that could benefit our area. Working with the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative, a National Science Foundation-funded grant, several biology faculty are designing research projects incorporating bees and other pollinators, pollen and honey. At the Sylvania Campus, biology faculty are using pollen identification to help students learn how to use light microscopes and scanning electron microscopes. At the Rock Creek Campus, chemistry and biology faculty are collaborating on a project to extract pollen from honey from our hives to determine from which plants pollen is collected. We hope to include the math department eventually to do some statistical analysis.”

According to Stiles, each certified campus must reapply each year and report on accomplishments from the previous year. Other institutions of higher education are invited to explore completing the application process outlined at beecampususa.org.
About Portland Community College, Portland, Oregon
PCC is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon and 19th largest in the nation, serving approximately 85,000 full- and part-time students. PCC has four comprehensive campuses, eight education centers, and 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

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