Efforts to make campus pollinator-friendly highlighted at presentation

Samuel Bockover, Assistant Online Editor

Black Hills State University’s sustainability coordinator Eva Chase and ground crew leader Eric Hanson gave a public presentation about the university’s recent Bee Campus USA designation on Oct. 9 at the Matthews Opera House & Arts Center in Spearfish.

The BHSU campus was designated a Bee Campus in June after committing to the Bee Campus USA initiative’s mission of supporting native pollinator species through sustainable property management. Bee Campus USA is part of the Xerces Society’s Bee City USA initiative.

In the first half of the presentation, Chase explained that the university was engaged in developing a “habitat plan” to attract and sustain local pollinating insect species, such as bees, on campus grounds. The habitat plan involves sustainable land management strategies and planting annual flowers and other plant species native to the region.

She added that the university is also working to raise awareness in the community about the importance of pollinators through outreach programs such as public talks and gardening workshops. BHSU’s Environmental Sustainability Student Organization is involved and will be incorporating more bee and pollinator-related content into their outreach activities.

In the second half of the presentation, Hanson talked about the role of native plants in attracting pollinators and the financial and logistical difficulties of balancing ecological needs with the needs of the campus’s human occupants.

According to Hanson, “It’s a real balancing act for us, being a public entity.”

Hanson also discussed how individuals can support pollinators in their own gardens and backyards. He recommended practices from integrated pest management, such as the use of natural predators to control pest levels in areas like gardens and yards. He also recommended avoiding broad spectrum chemicals, which can kill pollinators and disrupt their populations.  

According to Bee Campus USA’s website, “The Bee Campus USA program endorses a set of commitments, defined in an application, for creating sustainable habitats for pollinators.”

Chase and Hanson’s presentation was hosted by the Matthews Opera House as part of its Bellman Brown Bag series of public presentations.