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Pollinator Grants Offered to High Schools
Iowa Ag Connection - 11/07/2019

High school students in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin can help establish habitat for imperiled insect pollinators and monarch butterflies as part of a pollinator habitat grant program offered by the Sand County Foundation.

Agriculture and science educators in the three states are encouraged to apply for $1,000 grants to involve their high school students in raising native wildflowers and transplanting them in rural areas.

Insect pollinators are essential for crop pollination and ecological diversity. In recent years their numbers are low partly due to loss of native wildflower habitat, especially in the agricultural landscape.

In response, Sand County Foundation, a national nonprofit conservation organization, began offering a pollinator habitat grant program for high schools.

Successful applicants will receive about 600 seedlings of five native wildflower species in March. Students must raise the plants in school greenhouses, transplant them to appropriate sites in the spring, and maintain and monitor the plants through the summer. Teachers will receive a training webinar and a $1,000 cash award paid to school districts or FFA chapters to offset project expenses.

"The objective of the grants is for students to add native wildflower diversity to agricultural settings for the benefit of pollinators," explained Craig Ficenec, Sand County Foundation program director.

"For transplanting, we encourage applicants partner with landowners to find nooks and crannies within the working landscape. This could be a farm field, open space owned by an agricultural or rural electric cooperative, or other uncultivated areas" he added.

The deadline to apply is Dec. 9. To apply, visit www.sandcountyfoundation.org/SchoolGrant.

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 at https://bit.ly/2JHdq1u.

Pollinator habitat grant program sponsors include: Syngenta, We Energies Foundation, Enel Green Power North America Inc., Bayer Crop Science, Dairyland Power Cooperative, and the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.

Sand County Foundation, based in Madison, is a national non-profit that champions voluntary conservation practices by farmers and ranchers to improve soil, water and wildlife habitat.

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