Pheasants Forever’s Youth Pollinator Habitat Program Aims to Help the Birds, Bees and Butterflies

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PHEASANTS AND POLLINATORS 

Not only is pollinator habitat good for the bees, butterflies and beetles, but pollinator habitat is also excellent brood rearing habitat for pheasants, quail and grassland songbirds. Pollinator habitat – native flowering plants – attract soft-bodied insects that pheasant chicks, and other ground-nesting chicks, rely on for survival during the first 6-8 weeks of life.

WHAT IS THE YOUTH POLLINATOR HABITAT PROGRAM?

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Youth Pollinator Habitat Program provides support to over 700 grassroots chapters and their partners across the country to engage youth, families and communities in establishing pollinator habitat projects.
 
The program’s objectives are to increase awareness about declining pollinator populations, educate the general public on the importance of pollinator habitat and establish quality pollinator habitat across the country. The program will provide tools for chapters and their partners to work with local community partners to create habitat projects that involve youth, school and community groups.
 
Program support includes training on how to plan, plant and manage a pollinator project from start to finish. Additionally, conservation/pollinator curriculum for classrooms, hands-on educational activities and monitoring activities for after the project is established are provided. Project benefits include quality pollinator foraging and nesting habitat, but also opportunities for youth to get outside and gain an appreciation for wildlife and conservation.
 

WHAT IS THE NEED FOR THE PROGRAM?

Pollinating insects are an essential component in global food production. Approximately one-third of all food and beverage products need pollination, yet many species of native pollinators and domesticated honey bees are in decline. Monarch butterfly populations have decreased 90% in the last two decades, and commercial honeybee keepers are reporting losses up to 30% annually. While there is debate on the reasons for declining pollinator populations, most scientist agree that the lack of quality foraging and nesting habitat is a major factor. Pollinator habitat that provides a diverse mixture of native flowering plants of different color, shape and size is what is needed to support the life cycle needs of many pollinator species.
 
Today’s youth spend the majority of their time fixated on electronic devices and less than half of the time outdoors that their parents did. Research has shown that children who spend more time outdoors are healthier, receive better grades, have longer attention spans and are less prone to depression than children who spend most of their time indoors. If this trend continues, children today will not develop the affinity to the outdoors they need both physically and emotionally.
 

PROGRAM RESULTS

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have conducted 46 projects and educated over 2,466 participants since this program began in 2013. Projects have been completed in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Thanks to financial support from Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography, Jane Turner Foundation, SportDog, the Nebraska Environmental Trust, Greater American Ribs, Phillips County, Colorado, Pheasants Forever and the National Youth Leadership Council.

New support coming in 2015 from the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resource Trust Fund, DuPont-Pioneer and the Staples Foundation will allow Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever to expand the program into new states. Generous financial support from these organizations, businesses and individuals is matched with money and in-kind volunteer work from local Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever chapters to complete local projects.
 
For more information about Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Youth Pollinator Habitat Program, contact Drew Larsen, Habitat Education Specialist, at dlarsen@pheasantsforever.org or 308-293-1194.