1. Involve the whole school community in pollinator health
Build awareness about pollinator friendly practices and involve the whole school community in understanding why pollinators are important and what the community can do. A healthy habitat is easier to achieve when everyone - students, teachers, administrators, custodians, parents, neighbourhood users - understands how their own and collective activities and decisions contribute to pollinator health. Here are some ways to involve the school community:
- Involve parents and community members
- Encourage parents and community members to participate the school’s pollinator friendly activities. Start a School Grounds Greening Committee or Team.
- Recruit volunteers for creating pollinator gardens
- Recruiting volunteers for planning and special care of pollinator friendly gardens will help to ensure on-going budget and resources are made available for your garden’s establishment and success.
- Connect with staff
- Connect with your school division’s Sustainable Development Committee and maintenance department. They can help you with practical resources for your pollinator friendly school.
2. Add or enhance pollinator friendly habitat on school grounds
School grounds have an important role to play in urban areas. With the inclusion of pollinator friendly environments, schools can provide food and shelter to help pollinators move through urban landscapes. Consider the following suggestions to help your school to enhance pollinator friendly habitat:
- Mow carefully
- Assign Nature Study Areas where regular mowing is stopped and the area is allowed to revert to native habitat. Click here to read the Winnipeg School Division's School Ground Greening Guidelines for Play and Learning.
- Create and demonstrate gardens
- Add pollinator-friendly theme or habitat gardens that demonstrate how food, water and shelter may be provided. Click here to see how to create a simple prairie pollinator garden.
- Start small
- Keep it small and manageable. It might look a little messy but to pollinators, it will be wonderful.
- Consider raised gardens and signage
- Raised gardens may help and reduce foot traffic on the soil. Add signage that informs people about the importance of pollinators and how your garden helps to keep them healthy.
3. Keep pollinator friendly areas healthy with sensitive maintenance practices
Maintaining a healthy habitat for pollinators on school grounds means doing things a little differently. Sometimes what looks unkempt and messy on one hand could be perfect habitat for pollinators.Consider the following suggestions to help your school to enhance pollinator friendly habitat:
- Leave a messy garden in the Fall and early Spring
- Let dead plant material remain undisturbed in the fall and early spring. These leaves and stalks continue to provide places for pollinators to hibernate or store eggs. Your grounds maintenance and School Grounds Greening Committee should have a special maintenance plan for the area.
- Plan for the long term
- Think long term and make sure you plan and budget to pay a little extra attention in the first two years of a newly planted naturalized garden. Native plants take longer to establish and benefit greatly from non-toxic weed controls such as mulching and hand-weeding.
- Purchase sustainable goods
- Purchase goods and services that are labeled or certified as environmentally friendly.
- Pollinators live in all parts of world and can be impacted by toxins, pollutants or habitat destruction associated with industrial production of typical school maintenance and office supplies. Eco-certifications help to ensure that these damages are minimized. Where possible, look for and purchase items with organic certification.
4. Learn about pollinators and “Bee” a Teacher:
Teachers and students come in all types, sizes and ages. Anyone can teach or learn about pollinators whoever they are. If you know something about pollinators then share what you know with friends and family; if you only know a little about something then be open and learn. Either way it feels great and pollinators will benefit from your awareness.
- "Bee" a Teacher by:
- Integrating pollinator education into your curriculum. Incorporate local resources to support the program (e.g. Living Prairie Museum, Assiniboine Park Conservancy, field trips to pollinator-friendly gardens, etc.)
- Organizing a pollinator-friendly event
- Requesting pollinator-friendly gardens within the school grounds as a teaching tool
- Participating in citizen science initiatives. Contact local pollinator groups to participate.