Students help improve pollinator habitat
On Friday, Nov. 7, the Lincoln County Pheasants Forever Chapter partnered with Merrill Parks & Recreation, the Merrill High School FFA Club and two fifth grade classes from Washington Elementary School to plant a one-acre pollinator habitat project at Prairies Trails Park along the Prairie River.
Students spent the morning learning about pollinators, followed by planting the prepared site.
“Pollinators are important to everyone since one out of every three bites of food we take is directly related to pollinator species,” said Rich Wissink of Pheasants Forever.
The students built “bee tubes” out of plastic water bottles to attract these important pollinators. They also made their own “milkweed balls” to grow milkweed, which is an important food source for pollinators, particularly the monarch butterfly.
DNR wildlife biologist Shelby Hiestand taught the students about the life cycle and migratory patterns of the monarch butterfly. She also helped the students make milkweed balls out of clay, milkweed seeds and gardening soil.
Wissink showed students how their meals would be different without the work of pollinators. He demonstrated that even something as unlikely as pizza depends on pollinators for some of its vital ingredients. In fact, the healthiest foods are the ones that can be attributed to pollinators.
“Pollinators pollinate the best of our food,” he said.
Merrill High School Agriculture Education teacher and FFA advisor Brigid Reimann brought some of her high school students to help the younger children with the planting project and making bee tubes.
A grant from Sport Dog provided the funding for the seeds planted at Prairie Trails Park, which included a mix of flowers to attract pollinators.
The Quail Forever/Pheasants Forever Pollinator Habitat Program is designed to engage youth, families and communities in establishing and monitoring pollinator habitat areas across the country. Working with local community partners, chapters use their expertise, equipment and networks to create habitat projects that involve youth, schools and community groups.