EXPLORING POLLINATORS THROUGH FUN EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES
We can thank pollinators for many of our favorite foods. According to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, “Scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of pollinators like bees, butterflies and moths, birds and bats, beetles, and other insects.”
However, over the past couple decades, pollinators have been declining at alarming rates, recently landing some of them on the endangered species list. We are already seeing some of the impacts of pollinator decline at the grocery store with the slowly rising prices of produce, and it seems to be on-track to get much worse. Can you imagine paying $5 for a single tomato? Or possibly not having access to fruits, nuts and some vegetables at all?
To address the decline of pollinators in Northeast Indiana, Southwest Honey Co. has been on a mission to educate the public about the fascinating world of pollinators, how they help us and how we can help them. As the volunteer-based organization enters it’s fourth year, Southwest Honey Co. is celebrating the milestone of hosting 3,000 students who have participated in their innovative and interactive STEM summer programs for children and adults.
Megan Ryan, a full-time educator who spends her summer break teaching the public about pollinators and the organization’s volunteer Education Director commented, “I think for most people, when you talk about pollinators, they immediately think about how beautiful butterflies are and how bees sting, not about agriculture. It seems like the average person is disconnected with where our food comes from as well as the very real need and impacts of pollinators. To create more awareness, we developed some awesome learning experiences for children and adults all about pollinators.”
Ryan says that their most popular program is for children and is aptly named ‘Explore The Honey Bee;’ but it’s not a beekeeping class. Featuring interactive presentations, hands-on exploration stations and some bee-dancing, each event is designed to engage students with the fascinating life of pollinators through the eyes of the honey bee. The program is hosted on-site in a ‘Science Tent’ on the grounds of the Southwest Conservation Club, but also has traveled around Northeast Indiana upon request to schools, parks, community centers and to almost every Allen County Public Library branch throughout the summer. She noted that the program has been very well received in the community as a fun, scientific, nature-based experience for kids, especially enjoyed by scout troops, homeschool groups, summer campers as well as other groups and families who are generally interested in bugs, conservation, nature and the environment.
As we slowly enter into spring, Ryan says they are beginning to schedule summer groups and their calendar is typically full by mid-April. However, as of right now there are still dates left for groups to choose from. If you would like more information about Southwest Honey Co.’s educational experiences for children and adults, please see www.southwesthoney.com or call 260-609-2897.
Southwest Honey Co. is a volunteer-operated organization founded as an initiative to conserve our local pollinator population. On a global level, pollinators are declining; which if left unaddressed, will drastically change the world as we know it. “In response to the crisis, we strapped on our veils, slid on our gloves and began to partner with organic farmers and natural property owners in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area and began to build apiaries populated from local honey bee swarms.” Southwest Honey Co. currently provides refuge for 50 colonies in our sustainably kept, organic apiaries. It is from these hives that Southwest Honey Co. harvests raw honey and creates local handmade products. Proceeds go towards creating sustainable habitats for pollinators, promoting awareness of their population decline & educating the public on ways they can help.
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