Fourteen Wisconsin schools have been awarded grants to establish habitat for imperiled insect pollinators and monarch butterflies.
The pollinator habitat grants were awarded by Sand County Foundation to Wisconsin agricultural and science educators. Each grant recipient will receive native wildflower seedlings, a training webinar and a consultation, and first-time grantees will receive a $1,000 grant for the school district or FFA chapter to offset project expenses. The schools selected are:
- Luck High School, Luck
- School of Options and Applied Research (SOAR) Charter High School, Eagle River
- Turtle Lake High School, Turtle Lake
- Glenwood City High School, Glenwood City
- Thorp School District, Thorp
- Auburndale High School, Auburndale
- Menominee Indian High School, Keshena
- Winneconne High School, Winneconne
- Westby Area High School, Westby
- Wisconsin Dells High School, Wisconsin Dells
- Prairie du Chien High School, Prairie du Chien
- Vincent High School of Agricultural Sciences, Milwaukee
- Waunakee High School, Waunakee
- J.A. Craig High School, Janesville
“Our objective is to engage students in adding native wildflower diversity to rural areas for the benefit of pollinators and monarch butterflies,” says Craig Ficenec, Sand County Foundation program director. “Pollinators are essential for crop pollination and ecological diversity, but the numbers of wild bees and monarch butterflies have dropped, partly because of the loss of native wildflower habitat near farmland.”
To qualify for the grants, the schools needed greenhouses or suitable indoor growing areas to raise the nearly 600 seedlings of milkweed, prairie blazing star, wild bergamot and other species they will receive in March. They were also required to identify a location to transplant these native wildflowers in the spring and tend to them through the summer.
“For transplanting, we encouraged applicants to find a site on or near agricultural land,” Ficenec says.
Pollinator habitat grant program sponsors include Syngenta, We Energies Foundation, Bayer Crop Science, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and Dairyland Power Cooperative.
“We received many grant applications from Wisconsin educators. It’s clear that Wisconsin students and landowners care about the plight of pollinators and monarchs,” he adds.
Grants were also awarded to high schools in Iowa and Minnesota.
In addition to the grant program, all teachers can access a Pollinator Habitat Curriculum Guide developed through a partnership between Sand County Foundation and Earth Partnership at the University of Wisconsin. The guide’s 28 activities, aligned with state and national education standards, engage students in planning, establishing, managing and monitoring prairie habitat for insect pollinators and grassland birds. The guide is available for free download.
Sand County Foundation is a national nonprofit that champions voluntary conservation practices by farmers and ranchers to improve soil, water and wildlife habitat.