City-sponsored workshop aims to educate and inform local residents on how they can help create habitat for pollinators to thrive within the local ecosystem.

FILE PHOTO: THE SPOKESMAN - Creating pollinator-friendly habitats in your own backyard will be the focus of the March 10 event in Wilsonville. In 2013, Wilsonville made national headlines when a mass die-off of bees occurred in the community. It was a tragic event with sweeping changes regarding the use of pesticides and impacts reaching far beyond the city's borders.

But out of a bad situation (the

die-off was on private property, not the City) arose a City program aimed at education and execution of a plan to improve the local ecosystem for its native pollinators, and thus the "Bee Steward" program was born.


WHAT: Attract Backyard Pollinators Workshop

WHERE: Center for Research in Science and Technologies at 11265 SW Wilsonville Road (nexts to Boones Ferry Primary School)

WHEN: Saturday, March 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

WHO: The City of Wilsonville and sponsors of the Bee Stewards program


Five years later, the Bee Steward program serves to develop and integrate the city's Integrated Pest Management plan for all city-owned grounds and facilities. It also established interpretive signage near pollinator gardens to enhance the community's understanding of pollinator's environmental needs.

"Looking at the issue of pollinators, it's something that affects us throughout the world in the food we eat and all the plants and trees that are dependant on them," said Kerry Rappold, City of Wilsonville Natural Resources Program Manager. "For us, a big catalyst for the Bee Steward program was the 2013 event. It started with something truly unfortunate, but we've had a program grow out of this that has brought together a great array of partners."

Those partners, along with the City, are sponsoring a workshop focused on teaching urban residents to attract and sustain pollinators in their own backyard and home gardens.

The West Linn-Wilsonville School District's Center for Research in Environmental Sciences and Technologies (CREST) will host the March 10, event where pollinator experts will deliver useful tips about the basics of creating a pollinator habitat garden.

Space for the workshop is limited to just 25, and pre-registration is required, but Rappold encourages anyone interested in learning more about the Bee Steward program to join them anyway to gain useful knowledge in an information fair-style format. It's all part of a more concerted effort to get this information out to the public on how they can make a difference in their local ecosystem.

"It's our first coordinated effort to bring something to the community, to not only give them knowledge of pollinators but how they can participate and create habitat on their own property as well as gaining an understanding of all these important species we have," Rappold said.

Rappold said he also works with local schools to help students understand the important role pollinators play in our ecosystem. Last week he visited second grade classrooms across the district in hopes the education will strengthen student's connection with the natural environment around them as they begin to understand how all parts of the habitat are connected.

One of the points that will be touched on in the workshop will explain what a "pollinator tool kit" is and how it can help local residents in the pursuit of improving habitat for these pollinators.

The tool kit includes information on everything from plants and identifying pollinators, and how to deal with pest management issues that arise in both commercial and residential environments.

"We're really to do a comprehensive program to take advantage of what the City can do, in terms of our resources, but also what the community at-large can do in terms of participating at home," Rappold said.

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