Seventh graders design small gardens for pollinators
With the small-scale plans developed by seventh-grade science students at Indian Hills Junior High, just about everyone can help promote pollinators by providing plants that attract and nourish them in their own backyard.
The plans called for either a raised bed no larger than 4-foot by 8-foot or three large pots.
“The science behind this project is for students to learn about ecosystems, but the authenticity behind this project is that our community needs to try and stop pollinator decline,” says Alice Fuglsang, one of the seventh grade Project-Based Learning Network science teachers at Indian Hills.
The students designed their garden plans in teams. Individually, students wrote about the importance of pollinators in our community and why the community should plant small pollinator gardens. Fuglsang and Brian Boerner scored the student projects and selected the the written response by Serena Carlson to submit for inclusion in Clive Living magazine. Other top essays are included below.
How can the community help pollinators?
By Serena Carlson
You’ve probably heard of pollinators or know that they have something to do with plants and a healthy world. But what are pollinators, and why should we help them? Pollinators are animals such as birds and insects that move pollen from the male anther to the female stigma of a flower to fertilize it and allow it to reproduce. Sadly, these magnificent organism populations are rapidly decreasing. Some of the main reasons for pollinator decrease are lack of food, pesticide use, habitat loss, disease, parasites, pathogens and global warming.
Before reading on, close your eyes. Imagine a world without fruit or flowers. Never again would you taste fresh garden salad and sweet melon or smell the tantalizing aroma of roses or lilacs. Our community and world need to care about pollinators because without them, many plants would be unable to reproduce. Since most plants have adapted to the help of pollinator species and are interdependent with them, these plants wouldn’t be able to reproduce without the help of bats, insects and birds. Less plants due to the decrease of pollinators would set off a drastic chain of events, including livestock deaths and decreased food supply. Not only would we have less to eat, but less air to breathe as well, because plants produce oxygen through the cycle of photosynthesis.
Since we would all be in pretty rough shape without pollinators, we have to work as a community to save them. We don’t have to do anything big. Simply planting a garden including host plants, nectar plants, water and rocks could help provide a home and food for many pollinators. Another thing we can do to help these tiny travelers is remove pesticides from fields and produce. Pollinators are tiny creatures that make a big difference, and like them, we can do small things to help them for the betterment of the world.
By Grace Zhang
Pollinators are some of the most important organisms in the world. Pollinators are animals that move pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of the flower. Types of pollinators include bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles, and other insects. They are responsible for a lot of our food and sustain our ecosystems. They also produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce through pollination. Pollinators and flowers have a symbiotic relationship, called mutualism. Mutualism is a relationship where both organisms benefit from each other. Flowers are benefited by bees because they are able to become pollinated. Bees benefit from flowers because the pollen is taken back to their hives and is used as food for the bees. Along with the interactions between pollinators and flowers, pollinators have many special adaptations that help them do their job. Butterflies have long tongues that help them reach into flowers in order to sip nectar. Hummingbirds use their wings in order to fly faster and higher, which also helps them pollinate.
Over time, pollinator populations have been decreasing due to the way farming has changed, pesticide use, habitat loss to cities, disease, parasites, global warming, and a neurotoxin that affects the nervous system of bees when they consume contaminated nectar. Our community should care and help save the pollinators for many reasons. Worldwide, over half the diet of fats and oils comes from crops pollinated by animals. Pollinators are vital to our food and other animals because they create and maintain the habitats and ecosystems that animals rely on for food and shelter. They also facilitate the reproduction in 90 percent of the world’s flowering plants. Without pollinators, we wouldn’t have very much to eat because bees keep many plants and crops alive.
Our community can help pollinators by creating a mini ecosystem with flowers and a nesting site for the pollinators. The flowers are for the pollinators to pollinate them and the nesting site is a safe place for the pollinators to nest, lay eggs, and raise their young. Our community can also plant native plants because native plants do a better job of providing food and shelter for native wild animals. Overall, pollinators are very important and essential for us. They maintain our ecosystems and are responsible for a lot of our food. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to survive, which is why our community should be helping them.
Plant, Grow, Fly
By Kenyan Smith
Butterflies, bees, beetles and birds. What do they all have in common? They are all pollinators! Pollinators are different organisms or species that spread the pollen from one plant to all of the other plants. Without flowers, we would be eating mostly corn and other grains. I mean, maybe Iowa wouldn’t have a problem with that…But the other option would be individually pollinating each different plant ourselves. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, over 73 species of pollinators are endangered. (2017) These are the same pollinators that help grow our home vegetable and flower gardens. This will impact many people in Iowa especially because we are such an agricultural state, and the pollinators that help the farmers produce the food we eat from our grocery stores. This can affect us both environmentally and economically.
Do you know all of the small yellow flowers we think are weeds? What are they called? Oh yeah, dandelions! Did you know that they help the bees make their delicious, sticky, sweet honey especially early in the season when many flowers aren’t out yet? Dandelions are heartier than many flowers and can survive in colder weather and can adapt to temperature and other living conditions easier. You can stop poisoning these plants and help the bees! These poisons also run into the water and pollute it, causing small water animals and amphibians to get sick. You can also plant flower gardens with native plants to attract different varieties of pollinators. Pollinators love color, and so do we! You can spice up your yard while helping the populations of different birds and bugs. How would you feel if you had to travel 50-100 miles a day? This is the average day in the life of a monarch butterfly when they migrate. (USDA, 2018) You can help them by planting milkweed, leaving flat rocks for them to sun themselves on, or leaving a small dish of water for them to get a drink. These are just some ideas! Think of some of your own and maybe even organize a community garden!
Help save the pollinators!
By Niya Copeman
Do you know what a pollinator garden is? Or what pollinators are? Or even that many of the pollinator species are declining? Well I definitely did not know these things before I started researching it. If we do not start creating more gardens, then pollinator animals such as butterflies and bees will become extinct or more scarce than they already are. Please help with our mission to stop the extinction of the pollinators. Let me tell you how you can help achieve our goal with us.
A pollinator garden is very beneficial not only for bees and butterflies, but also for you because it makes your yard look very beautiful, especially when you use the right flowers and additional features. Some of the things that you should include in your garden are, of course, flowers, a good spot for them to grow, and also some resting places for the bees and butterflies. Let me tell you in detail how and why.
The first thing that you should do when wanting to plant a pollinator garden is to choose a place that is open to the sun but with some protection from the wind. You have to choose good plants and flowers for the bees and butterflies to use. Some good plants and flowers to use are milkweed and very bright and colorful flowers. If I was building the garden, I would plant small plants instead of seeds because they are already grown and the pollinators will come faster. You should include nectar plants along with host plants in your garden. The last thing that is important to put in your garden is a resting place such as a rock for the bees and butterflies to sit on.
I really hope that this helped you and educated you about pollinators and pollinator gardens I really encourage you to make one of these, even if it is just a flower pot on your front porch or a 100 square foot flower bed. Anything will help to save the pollinator species and also to make your yard look beautiful.
Why we should care about pollinators?
By Abby Lackey
Pollinators play a big role in our world. They help start the food chain that keeps us all alive. Pollinators are the organisms that pollinate our plants. Pollination is when a pollinator collects the pollen from a plant and spreads it to another plant of the same species (thus starting the reproductive cycle in the plant). Without pollinators, we would not be able to survive because the pollinators pollinate the producers (plants) that feed all the organisms in all ecosystems. Without producers, the primary consumers would have no food, then the secondary consumers would have no food (and so on). Sadly, many pollinators are dying because of agricultural farming (pesticides), habitat loss, and climate change. These events can all be avoided with a few simple changes to our lifestyle.
Anyone can help; all you need to do is create a mini-habitat (ecosystem) for the pollinators to live and reproduce in. As a community, you can try to create a substitute for pesticides that are eco-friendly or your community could make rules about pesticides and the plants that use them. Communities can make sanctuaries for these special pollinators and the plants that attract them. Things you want to avoid is competition between organisms. You might also want to make sure there is a little amount of parasitism, but mutualism would be encouraged between organisms.
In conclusion, pollinators need our help to preserve their habitats and the food chains that come with it. We need to do our part in this world so that the pollinators can do their part and the ecosystems can stay in balance.
By Audrey Tanner
Imagine after a long winter finally ends, and the warm weather gives you the inspiration to go outside and plant a beautiful garden. You check outside every day waiting to see the beautiful flowers sprout from their buds; then the day comes that you finally see the bright colors outside. But then you realize after a few days they die. You’ve also realized that when you go to the store to get some honey, there isn’t as much as there normally is. Why did this happen? Because pollinators are disappearing when people decide they don’t want them to live near their house. Don’t be part of the reason why spring is dying. Instead, help bring spring back by doing the things below, and spread the word for more people to get involved. This is the reason why people should care.
There are many easy ways for our communities to help save pollinators. Every living thing needs a habitat to survive; habitats need water, food, and shelter in it. So, to help the pollinators around us, we need to make sure that habitats are available to them. We can start by doing two simple things. Adding a garden to your backyard is a perfect way to make sure that pollinators like bees and butterflies have food in their habitat, and this also benefits us! Another way to help the pollinators is when you see a beehive near your house, do not call someone to get rid of it, just leave the bees alone and they shouldn’t be a problem. Now that you know what you can do, help stop spring from dying! ♦