Kids and adults, wearing blue, white, and gray mostly, stand and crouch planting plants in front of a red brick building.

Torrance Scout Supports Bee Campus USA at UCLA

Torrance Scout Bruce McCallum and Troop 966 have paired with University of California, Los Angeles’s (UCLA) current landscaping plan, to increase native species on campus: to support local pollinators, to bring back native species, and for drought tolerant landscaping. 

A young adult in a tan uniform and green sash, covered in round patches, smiles into the camera, holding a potted plant with flats of plants and a window in the background.
Bruce with a homegrown milkweed seedling. Credit: Cara McCallum

Bruce, a Life Scout, researched how to support monarch butterflies, in response to the extreme decline of this species.  As part of his research, Bruce discovered the pesticides that are found in almost all native species, specifically native narrowleaf milkweed plants, even those found in nurseries.  These pesticides affect monarch caterpillars, whose sole diet is milkweed leaves.  Native milkweed plants die down in the winter, and support the monarchs’ migration at that time.  Native milkweed plants also protect the monarchs from parasites that could reside on other milkweeds, such as the popular tropical milkweed plants. 

Small green plants with small white stakes, on brown bark or mulched ground. A black sign on a wood stake with white text says "Butterfly Restoration Project" next to a line drawing of a butterfly.
The UCLA monarch project site. Credit: Cara McCallum

Bruce discovered a huge planting project at UCLA through the Bee City USA website.  He reached out and was welcomed by Bonny Bentzin, Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer, and Greg Luna, Senior Superintendent of Grounds at UCLA.  They have been a great support to Bruce.  Ms. Bentzin and Mr. Luna gave Bruce a beautiful area outside of Schoenberg Music Hall for his project.  They also worked with Bruce, answering questions, supporting Bruce’s efforts at research as he planned out the planting site, and urging Bruce to consider entire ecosystem thinking, soil health, even how to support the roots of the native plants with mushroom fungi.  

Bruce spent months in 2023 growing native narrowleaf milkweed from seeds at home. Bruce has grown over 300 milkweed seedlings successfully at his house, ready to be transplanted.  Bruce also learned that the monarchs need companion plants alongside the milkweeds where they lay their eggs. Bruce raised money to purchase organic native plants that will attract monarchs and other pollinators, supplying the butterflies with nectar, give shade to the caterpillars, and provide roosting places for the caterpillars to form into their chrysalis.  

22 adults and youths stand and kneel in two rows, smiling at the camera, wearing shares of blue, white, tan, gray, and green
Pack 966 at UCLA. Credit: Cara McCallum

Bruce and his troop had an amazing planting day on May 29, 2023, where they put in about 180 milkweed seedlings and about 50 native plants to support them. Also added to this monarch-friendly landscape were rocks that shallow bowls cut into them to collect water during irrigation for the pollinators to drink.

Kids and adults, wearing blue mostly, dig and crouch, planting plants in front of a road.
Planting day at UCLA. Credit: Cara McCallum

It is Bruce’s hope that this landscape will be a refuge for monarchs and other pollinators for some time, and, along with the very generous support of UCLA, will add to the native ecosystem on campus.

Kids and adults, wearing blue, white, and gray mostly, stand and crouch planting plants in front of a red brick building.
Planting day at UCLA. Credit: Cara McCallum

Bruce is a candidate for Eagle Rank in Scouting and also the Distinguished Conservation Service Award and just completed his sophomore year at West Torrance High School.

Bruce would like to thank Ms. Bentzin and Mr. Luna, UCLA, Xerces Society, Bee City USA, Caterpillar Chow, Home Depot, and Vons for their support of his Eagle project.

A young adult in a green hoodie and tan pants stands on a sidewalk smiling at the camera, with. In the background are plants on brown barked or mulched ground. Behind that is a red brick building.
Bruce at UCLA, after photo. Credit: Cara McCallum

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