Pollinators are essential to human food security, but their populations have fallen catastrophically under the combined assault of habitat loss, pesticides, and disease. Rotarians worldwide are inspiring and equipping their communities to create pollinator habitats. “Habitat is the biggest factor we have direct influence over,” says Wendy Caldwell, executive director of the Monarch Joint Venture, a coalition of government and private groups working to save the species. “And we need it everywhere. We’re losing habitat faster than we’re able to put it back in.”
Pollinator projects are a perfect match for Rotary’s strengths: our talent for creating fun, community-wide service projects, our skill in building partnerships across every sector of society, and our District and international networks that make it easy to replicate effective projects. Pollinator gardens literally change the landscape, proving to communities that they have the power to protect the biodiversity we humans need to survive.
Here’s a glimpse of three pollinator initiatives that partner with ESRAG:
Operation Pollination was launched in 2015 by Christopher Stein, who oversees three regions of Heritage Areas for the US National Park Service, and Marlene Gargulak, 2015-16 DG of District 5960. This initiative engages people in all walks of life and many settings, from a backyard to a region. Clubs or Districts sign a pollinator resolution [link to editable forms] then enlist partners in their community who pledge to specific actions they will take to protect pollinators, and publicize the partners through media outreach. A great example is D 5960’s role in creating the St. Croix Valley Pollinator Partnership, “which brought together small-business owners; a baseball team; government agencies such as the National Park Service, Forest Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service; and private companies, including Andersen Corp. and Xcel Energy,” reports Frank Bures in his October, 2020 article “Butterfly Effect” in Rotary Magazine.
“In 2016, the partnership received a grant of $200,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, allowing it to restore native habitat on nearly 1,000 acres of land and establish a 5-acre seed plot for milkweed and wildflowers at the St. Croix Correctional Center.” Chris Stein Chris_Stein@nps.gov gives an inspiring talk on the importance of pollinators and an introduction to Operation Pollination, and PDG Tina Hall (D6220) firstname.lastname@example.org explains the essentials of pollinator gardens. They are both glad to speak to any Rotary Club or District via Zoom.
Rotarians for BEES is an international ESRAG initiative launched in 2018 by the Rotary Club of Canterbury, Melbourne, Australia. Its projects include Your Garden – Our Future, to empower everyone from neighborhoods to farmers to grow bee-friendly plants, and the global Waggle Dance Challenge, a total-body learning adventure engaging everyone from toddlers to grannies in celebrating bees. Rotarians for Bees has created robust partnerships of national beekeepers’ associations, the Wheen Bee Foundation, and other key stakeholders to protect Australia’s native pollinators. The R4Bees website is full of resources, including urban planting guides and a ravishing short video about Emma Cutting’s Heart Gardening Project in the Melbourne Pollinator Corridor. For more information, contact John McCaskill at email@example.com
The Monarch Sister Schools Project (MSPP) helps clubs, districts and schools design and implement monarch habitat gardens, creating a continental pathway so these vital pollinators can survive their epic migration from Mexico to Canada. Tending pollinator gardens, and witnessing and supporting the miraculous monarch life cycle provides children valuable hands-on science experiences that connect them with nature. MSSP also builds a dynamic cultural exchange between Mexican and American students via pictures, letters, and internet meetings. Through MSSP, children enjoy some of the most wonderful features of Rotary: discovery, hands-on service, and cross-cultural friendships. To find out more and get your Club involved, visit the MSSP website at or contact Mary Anne Rishebarger You can follow MSSP and post about your project on the MSSP Facebook page and Instagram account @monarchsisterschools