Tag Archives: sca

You wouldn’t have these, without the bees (and other pollinators)!

Pollinators are insects or animals that move pollen from one flower to another…but did you know that 1 out of every 3 bites we consume comes from food that has been grown with the helping hand of a pollinator? That about 75% of our agricultural crops depend on pollinators such as bees, bats, wasps, flies, moths, hummingbirds, and butterflies? That without pollinators, we would lose many of our favorite foods?

Credit: Whole Foods Market

As a Student Conservation Association (SCA) intern at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,  I had the opportunity of putting together a pollinator exhibit booth at the local Whole Foods in Hadley, MA during Earth Day on April 22nd. I couldn’t have done it without the help and guidance of many others, and it was a success! On a cold, cloudy Saturday, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Visitor Services Coordinator, Chelsi Burns, and I spoke to about 75 visitors, many of whom came into the Whole Foods classroom where we had numerous activities set up from 11-2pm.

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The goal of this project was to engage children and adults alike in a hands-on activity that will get them thinking about pollinators, make them aware of the importance of pollinators, and show what they themselves can do to help some pollinator species of concern. Reading is an important tool across all ages, and on one side of the giveaway bookmark, there is an intricate black and white (pollinator related) design, and the other side has facts about pollinators , and what you can do to help. I received three very diverse art submissions on top of having one that I drew, and I left some bookmarks blank for the little artists out there who wanted to do their own designs. One of the submissions was even from local art student, Amy Hambrecht, who currently attends the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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From left to right: chosen pollinator art submissions from Thi Tran, Amy Hambrecht, Chloe Doe, and Greg Corbin. Thanks to all who contributed!

I also had an interactive PowerPoint with questions and facts about pollinators. Monarch butterflies, a pollinator, lay their eggs on milkweed, but much of milkweed has been lost due to pesticides and herbicides. Monarch caterpillars are specialists, which means they solely rely on one food source, milkweed. There were milkweed and dwarf sunflower seed packets, as well as very detailed instructions on how to plant milkweed. Milkweed plants undergo a process called vernalization/stratification, which means they sprout faster after they have cooled.

At the Whole Foods event on Earth Day, there were bumble bee posters, bumble bee “Save the Pollinators” stickers, and garden books to peruse through. There were numerous families with kids, a large college group, and a couple of older individuals who came in to enjoy the coloring fun and ask some questions. We had a very diverse audience and a wide range of ages of individuals who were really inquisitive about what they could do to help. Seemed like there was something for everyone!

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A discovery of finding out that the carrots growing in his yard were in fact pollinated by bees! Credit: Tash Lynch

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Kids coloring in their bookmarks, one of which was doing her own pollinator design of a flowering tree. Credit: Tash Lynch

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Justin Sokun checking out the selection of bookmarks. His friends and he were intrigued to come in after they were given “Save the Pollinators” bumble bee stickers. You can never be too old for stickers, right? 🙂 Credit: Chloe Doe

Pollinators annually contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. food economy supply, and without them, we wouldn’t have so many of delicious foods we eat today. Apples? Nope.. Carrots, blueberries, avocados, chocolate, wine, coffee? No way! Thanks to our pollinator friends, we have all of these foods available to us, so a huge shout out to them. The Rusty patched bumble bee population has declined 87% and Monarch Butterflies by 90% from 1990.  Their population numbers have drastically declined due to pesticides and loss of habitat/food sources, so it is time for us to take action and show our appreciation by helping them out! Listed below are a few ways how:

1.) Bee a proactive gardener and plant native plants native to YOUR area. Include a diversity of plants that also bloom during different seasons, so that pollinators have an abudance of food sources. If you are unsure about a specific plant, you can always reference http://www.plants.usda.gov.

2.) Avoid or reduce your use of pesticides.

3.) If you do not have the yard space, you can always create a window box. 

4.) Reduce the number of Invasive species.

5.) Get involved in your community, spread all the buzz about pollinators with friends!

Kicking off our 2015 diversity youth hiring program in Philly!

Each year since 2008, we’ve partnered with The Student Conservation Association to introduce culturally and ethnically diverse youth to conservation careers. The program, called the Career Discovery Internship Program, or CDIP, includes a weeklong orientation at one of our wildlife refuges or field offices before the students head off to various locations throughout the country, like Alaska and Maine. But some are staying right here in Philly! During the week, the students learn about the requirements for federal conservation careers, issues and challenges facing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and how we work with partners to serve the public through wildlife conservation. The students are also paired with a Service mentor to guide them through the summer. This year, we’re having orientation at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia and it’s been a great week!

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The whole 2015 crew along with our partners from LL Bean. This is right after a kayak trip they led for us on the Tinicum freshwater tidal marsh.

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Almost ready to launch!

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And on they went.

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Brendalee, the refuge biologist, talking to the students about her work at the refuge. The students met with refuge staff to learn about what they do to keep the refuge functioning. In addition to biology, they met with our maintenance and law enforcement staff, our visitor services and environmental education staff and learned the aspects of overall refuge management.

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After learning about what happens on a refuge, the students work on challenge projects throughout the week. They help the refuge solve real issues and provide some innovative ideas on topics such as marsh management, community outreach and refuge maintenance among other things.

Check out more awesome pics over at The Student Conservation Association’s website! 

 

 

 

Great Swamp’s wilderness is one wild place

If you haven’t heard, the Wilderness Act is turning 50. It’s big news for us here in the Northeast, since Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey is the first designated wilderness in the Department of the Interior. We partnered with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) to get a crew out on the refuge to clear trails that sustained damages from Hurricane Sandy. Hear from Emily Bowles, a member of the crew, as she reflects on her experience working in one wilderness treasure.

Emily (right) will be sharing her experience about her and the crew’s work at Great Swamp. Never miss a post!

In the most famous passage of the Wilderness Act, writer Howard Zahniser defines wilderness beautifully and concisely: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” As my crewmates and I work to prepare Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge to host the Wilderness Act’s 50th birthday party—which will include a visit from the public lands manager to all public lands managers, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell—we’re finding Zahniser’s words to be astonishingly accurate.

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Great Swamp Refuge has 8 miles of public trails and some are in the wilderness area. All refuge trails sustained damages from Hurricane Sandy with fallen trees and debris, but cleanup in the wilderness area isn’t so easy. The crew has a unique challenge, as hand tools, not power tools, have to get the job done, to maintain wilderness character. Learn more

Over the course of our efforts, the Great Swamp’s untrammeled community of life has been on impressive display. Yesterday we saw a juvenile bald eagle first thing in the morning, followed by a native praying mantis. As the day progressed and some dead and dangerously inclined trees were felled, the crew and I came across dragonflies, and a katydid (Tettigoniidae: a bug that to me looks like a cross between a grasshopper and a preying mantis). While we chopped apart an all day blowdown, Ed, strangely, found a spotted turtle… odd since our worksite was a considerable distance from water.

On the way back to the car the crew spotted a large bird in the woods. We couldn’t quite identify it, but the wingspan was large enough for it to have been a hawk. Early this morning, a gray catbird observed us stretching from its nearby perch. “Meow, meow!”  After lunch we spotted a little goldfinch eyeing a puddle to make his birdbath.

The highlight of the day came when we…finish reading this post at SCA’s Follow Me Field Blog!