Pollinator Problem Solved!

Over the course of the 2019 school year, Mr. Laird’s seventh-period environmental science class has studied and discussed various environmental issues. One issue that resurfaced throughout the school year was the declining population of pollinators worldwide. Due to the lack of pollinators in the area, the class decided to build a pollinator habitat in the form of a garden here on school grounds.

The project consists of three main groups: gardening, construction, and publication/advertisement. Students in the gardening section will be working with the soil and plants. Students in construction will be building the structures that are needed (flower beds, butterfly boxes, bird boxes). Students in charge of publication and advertising will write and track of the class’s permission from the school board, Mrs. Rupp, Dr. Mastillo, etc. They are also in charge of keeping the community up-to-date with the progress being made.

The Pollination Garden will be located across from Mr. Laird’s room, near the shop wing behind the school. This particular location was selected to protect students with allergies from insects, such as bees because it is secluded and away from commonly used exits from the school.

The pollinator habitat will include solitary bee houses, bat houses, and butterfly houses. The bee house will be centered in the area we have chosen outside of Mr. Laird’s room. The bat boxes will be hung from trees in order for the bats to get enough sunlight to stay warm. The butterfly boxes will also go on trees, and they will have seven openings for the butterflies to get into the box.  The project will also include at least one hummingbird feeder.

Environmental Science is not the only class using its green thumb at Redbank. Mr. Bundy’s Woodshop and Mr. Anderson’s Agriculture classes are working with the students from Environmental Science on the construction, selection, and planting of annual flowers.

A variety of perennial wildflowers and other native plants that will be used in the future were donated from botanists at Ernst Conservation Seeds.  The PA Game Commission has also provided seedlings of native trees and shrubs that are highly desired by our native bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.

The pollinator habitat will be beneficial to not only other classes but generations of students to come. Students will learn from first-hand experiences. This project requires students to show responsibility by providing the materials for the garden structures, and pathway on their own.

Overall, the goal of the project is for Redbank’s students to do their part in solving the issue of declining pollinator populations world wide (or in this case – locally in the community). Most people see these pollinators as pests; however, Laird and his students are hoping this project will create awareness about the issues pollinators face, such as the overuse of pesticides and other chemicals on their populations and what their benefit is locally and globally. According to the USDA, “Worldwide, approximately 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated by animals in order to produce the goods on which we depend.” So, these aren’t just pests, they are so beneficial for so many of the goods we need to survive.

Also written by two Environmental Science students, Emily Little & Zoe Rankin.