Decatur, Georgia, makes sure to keep it fun! Their theme for the Mardi Gras Parade was "Laissez Les Bee-Temps Rouler!" Their 12 costumed marchers pulled two bee-themed floats and passed out more than 500 pieces of literature that both announced their upcoming National Pollinator Week celebration as well as provided a list of bee-friendly yard practices and plants. At the judge’s reviewing stand, Beecatur presented a brief skit about the deadly effects of residential mosquito spraying on pollinators. They even took home the prize for “Best Costumes."
Who likes writing annual reports? Honestly? Probably very few of us. But here's the rub. If you do some wonderful things, but nobody documents them, did they really ever happen? Okay, so maybe the people directly involved will remember some of them, for a year or two, but no one will remember all of them.
Ever stumbled on an old college paper you wrote when you were cleaning out a closet and been astounded at how smart you sounded? What if you hadn't found that paper; would you remember that you once knew a fair amount about some obscure topic? I certainly wouldn't—and didn't when that happened to me.
Bee City USA & Bee Campus USA Annual Renewal Reports Are Treasure Troves
The fact is, we are receiving information at hyperspeeds these days, and were it not for their annual renewal reports, the pollinator conservation work Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliates are doing might be forgotten. We so appreciate the effort it takes for affiliates to share that information with us each year for numerous reasons. As national program managers, we learn how affiliates are engaging their communities in conserving pollinators, and often discover great ideas that other affiliates could replicate. Take the seed collection and giveaway programs that Portland State University and UNC Asheville do. And how about the pollinator garden certification and annual guided tour programs in Ashland and Talent, Oregon? Seattle, Washington's committee is a broad-based coalition of city department representatives and nonprofits that enhances habitat under utility lines, at the airport, in volunteer-managed patches; and works with the University of Washington and Washington State University to monitor how their habitat augmentation is impacting bee diversity. South Dakota State University, Mineral Area College in Missouri, and Greenwood, South Carolina, grow their own native plants for their pollinator gardens. Morehead State University in Kentucky teaches students to identify pollen in honey.
The Hillsborough, North Carolina, Tree Board also serves as the Bee City USA committee. They teamed up with the garden club and the City of Hillsborough to establish numerous pollinator gardens, promote gardening with native plants, and write and publish monthly articles about gardening for pollinators.
Annual reports are helping us assemble best practices and guide Bee City USA's resource and educational efforts, but they are also providing institutional memory for affiliates. It's easy to get caught up in planting pollinator gardens and hosting events, and not documenting any of that work. In Asheville, where Bee City USA started, our AmeriCorps member established a fantastic pollinator garden at a city park several years ago and continued to maintain it for three years after she left the AmeriCorps position. If she hadn't contacted me a few days ago to ask if I could locate a replacement volunteer to maintain it, I might have forgotten it entirely.
Now that Bee City USA is seven years old, affiliate staff and volunteers are experiencing turnovers for all of the reasons you'd expect—relocation, new jobs, retirement, illness. And their replacements are asking us to educate them on what was done in the past. When they do, we share all of the annual reports we have. Most affiliates proudly post their annual reports on their own Bee City or Bee Campus web pages and share the reports with their volunteers and communities to remind them of everything they accomplished together the previous year.
Need a Little Lift?
Many of the reports on 2018 are already published on our website. Soon, we should have all reports for last year's accomplishments published. You can read Bee City reports here and Bee Campus reports here.
Whenever you need a little lift, we hope you will take a few moments to read some of the reports. Despite the busy lives we all lead, people across America are finding the time, mostly as volunteers, to welcome pollinating bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, beetles, wasps, bats, and flies into their yards, traffic islands, parks, school yards, church parking lots, businesses and roadsides. They are telling their neighbors how they can integrate native plants into their landscaping and reduce herbicide, insecticide and fungicide use and say hello to the magical creatures that enable nearly ninety percent of the world's flowering plant species to reproduce. (Glorious blossoms and fruits aren't so bad either.)
By Phyllis Stiles, Pollinator Champion & Founder of Bee City USA (2012), an initiative of the Xerces Society since 2018
An initiative of the Xerces Society, Bee City USA's conservation work is powered by our donors.
Your tax deductible donation will help us to protect the life that sustains us.
Header photo by: Nancy Lee Adamson
These are the opinions and events of interest to the Bee City USA director and board.