Affiliate Spotlight: Gillette, Wyoming

Guest Blog by Megan McManamen, Committee Chair, Bee Campus USA – Gillette, Wyoming
Campbell County Master Gardener, Keep Gillette Beautiful Steering Committee
Gillette, Wyoming, marked its fourth year as a Bee City USA affiliate by hosting a variety of outreach and education activities for the community, creating and protecting pollinator habitat, and incorporating pollinator conservation into city policies and practices. Gillette community members participate in a variety of conservation programs including Bee City USA, collaborating on activities to reach shared conservation goals. 
Education & Outreach

This past spring Gillette hosted their annual Gillette Pollinator Day Celebration at the Garden and Landscape Educational Expo. During this day-long educational event over 250 community members attended workshops and lectures free of charge to learn about Wyoming’s native pollinators and planting for pollinators. In between lectures, participants were invited to take pictures with the bumble bee photo board and praying mantis, and stroll through educational booths which featured information about native bees, monarchs and milkweed, and native pollinator-friendly plants. The Northeast Wyoming Seed Library also gave away free packets of native wildflower seed. All attendees received a copy of the “Bee a Friend to Pollinators” brochure as well as the “Promoting Pollinators on Your Place” handbook, a free publication produced by the University of Wyoming Extension and Barnyards and Backyards.

During National Pollinator Week, the Gillette Bee City teamed up with the Urban Orchard — a community fruit tree orchard where residents can harvest fruit for free — and Campbell County Public Library to host a celebration of Wyoming’s native bees. The event was opened by Christy Bell, a PhD student in Zoology at the University of Wyoming, who introduced participants to the fascinating world of Wyoming’s native bees and led attendees through a crash course on how to identify them. After the workshop, participants were invited to the Urban Orchard to participate in the June pollinator count, set out butterfly puddlers, and install Gold-level Habitat Hero signage. With Christy’s help, participants were able to locate a thriving sweat bee nest complete with a cuckoo bee!

During May, June, July, and August, Gillette Bee City conducted pollinator surveys at the Urban Orchard. This involved counting the number of native bees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, flies, and wasps. During the July 2019 count, participants documented a two-fold increase in pollinator activity when compared to 2018 and during the August 2019 count, the number of pollinators at the Urban Orchard had tripled when compared to last year! 

Gillette Bee City also collaborated with the Master Gardeners and Campbell County Extension to have a booth at the 2019 Campbell County Ag Expo. Over 700 third graders visited the booth to look at insect cases featuring native pollinators, view pollinators under microscopes, and take pictures with the bumble bee photo board. 

During the Campbell County Master Gardeners Annual Tree Sale, Gillette Bee City partnered with the Campbell County Conservation District to provide free copies of the “Promoting Pollinators on Your Place” handbook. The Tree Sale Committee also worked with Gillette Bee City to highlight pollinator friendly trees and educate visitors about the importance of providing trees for pollinators. 

Pollinator Health & Habitat

In 2019, the Gillette Bee City teamed up with the City of Gillette Parks Division to encourage Adopt-A-Planter participants to select pollinator-friendly plants for the fourth year in a row. Each summer, the City of Gillette invites local nonprofits, civic groups, businesses, and individuals to adopt and care for one of the community’s 96 beautification planters throughout the summer. Adopt-A-Planter participants were able to easily locate pollinator-friendly plants by looking for the bee symbol placed next to pollinator friendly species on the pre-selected Adopt-A-Planter plant list, and they received an electronic version of the pollinator-friendly planting guide. 

Gillette Bee City also worked to protect and create new pollinator habitat this year. An area of native showy milkweed along one of Gillette’s major roads was designated as a Monarch Waystation through Monarch Watch. The Bee City committee teamed up with Campbell County Parks and Recreation to expand the pollinator garden at the Urban Orchard. Two pollinator gardens in town also earned certifications through Audubon’s Habitat Hero program.

The North Community Garden installed a new pollinator garden to delight its volunteers with spring and summer blooms, and provide habitat and forage for native pollinators. Gillette Bee City also worked with Gillette College to complete the installation of a demonstration pollinator rain garden in front of the Gillette College Technical Education Center. This garden features educational signage and benches to encourage community members to linger and learn about pollinators and urban water runoff in the community.

Policies & Practices

Gillette Bee City worked with the City of Gillette Parks and Beautification Board to add a new “Go Green” category to the city’s annual Landscape Beautification Awards. This new category recognizes Gillette’s status as a Bee City and Tree City and acknowledges those homeowners, businesses, institutions, civic groups, and nonprofit organizations that have made sustainability a key feature of their landscape design by incorporating wildlife or pollinator habitat, water-wise gardening techniques (rain barrels, cisterns, drip irrigation), use of native plants, low-impact development practices, along with other sustainability-minded landscape-design features.

On March 19, 2019 the City of Gillette proclaimed April 6 as Gillette Pollinator Day and recognized Gillette as an affiliate of Bee City USA and a signatory of the National WIldlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. The City of Gillette in conjunction with Gillette Bee City and the Campbell County Master Gardeners worked together to complete the requirements of the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge and Gillette was recognized as part of the Leadership Circle by taking 8 or more actions to protect the monarch butterfly. 

Gillette Bee City looks forward to another year of bringing the community together to learn about and take steps to conserve native pollinators.

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