Next week is National Pollinator Week!
Pollinators, like bees, birds, and butterflies, play an important role in all of our lives. They aid in flowering plant reproduction, help ensure the health of national forests and grasslands, and work together with famers and ranchers in the production of fruits and vegetables. National Pollinator Week is a yearly effort to build more awareness about the need to maintain a healthy pollinator population.
Today, we’re highlighting one of the many National Pollinator Week events taking place all over the nation: the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Pollinator-Palooza.
To celebrate National Pollinator Week, the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Sophia M Sachs Butterfly House is connecting people with pollinators in a whole new way. On Father’s Day, families in the Greater St Louis Area and beyond are invited to join games and crafts (designed for kids ages 2-11), observe bee hives, and ask a trained entomologist about pollination or the pollinators themselves.
I had a chance to chat with Laura Chisholm, a program specialist and entomologist at the Sophia M Sachs Butterfly House, about what we can expect at this weekend’s Pollinator Palooza. Laura knows her bugs! She runs the Pollinator-Palooza event and Bug Hunt which occur during the June and July. She also assists with other special events throughout the year, including October Owls and Orchids, March Morpho Mania, Booterflies, and Hot! Hot! Hot!
Off we go!
Laura, tell us a little about your background and training.
Laura: I have a BS in Entomology from Texas Tech University. During school, I interned at the Cincinnati Zoo in their Insectarium. Afterwards, I created a classroom teaching collection and helped teach the Entomology for Educators lab course. Upon graduation, I moved north to Minnesota and ran the Minnesota Zoo’s seasonal Butterfly House for two years before becoming an entomologist for the Sophia M Sachs Butterfly House.
Why should we be concerned about pollinators?
Laura: Considering every 3rd bite of food is made possible by a pollinator, pollinators have a major impact on our daily lives. Bees, for instance, are a major part of agriculture. Whether they are pollinating the clover our cattle loves or even providing a sweetener for our tea, life would be very different without pollinators.
What is the Father’s Day Pollinator-Palooza?
Laura: Father’s Day Pollinator-Palooza is our kick off to National Pollinator Week and runs from 11-2, Sunday June 19th. We provide games and activities that help families learn about the wide range of pollinators and how they are beneficial to the world. Families will also be able to find projects of their own by accessing the Science for Citizens’s Project Finder. Then, when they head home, they can take a sunflower home to plant and start attracting some pollinators to their own backyards.
What will people be able to do at the event?
Laura: At our event, children and their families can create a pollinator lei, survey our native Butterfly Garden for pollinators, take on the bee by cross-pollinating apples, or create a solitary bee home to place in their own garden. We hope folks will go home with a better understanding of how much we are dependent upon these small creatures. Every activity or craft is either about a pollinator or is an explanation of how pollination works. One craft shows the anatomy of a flower, another shows how different colors attract different types of pollinators, the survey shows the diversity of pollinators out there, and we even highlight some of the lesser known pollinators with bat and lemur crafts.
Who should attend?
Laura: We invite families in the Greater St Louis Area and beyond to come out to the Sophia M Sachs Butterfly House and join in the activities. Games and crafts are designed for kids ages 2-11, and the event is free with general admission ($6 for adults, $4 for 2-11, and $4.50 for 65+).