Sustainable Pollinator Gardens for Habitat and Education

EPA Grant Number: SU836774
Title: Sustainable Pollinator Gardens for Habitat and Education
Investigators: Sheardy, Richard
Institution: Texas Woman's University
EPA Project Officer: Sergeant, Anne
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2016 through August 31, 2017
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2016) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainability , P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Water

Description:

Transform campus lawns into sustainable pollinator gardens that provide "Learn by Doing" research and educational opportunities; takes advantage of the institution’s location in a narrow portion of the monarch butterfly migration corridor.

Objective:

Our primary goal is educating our students and citizenry about water and pollinator conservation concerns, thus helping them become active participants in finding solutions to current environmental sustainability issues. A simple action, planting sustainable landscapes using native plants, creates habitats for insects and birds, and places of beauty. Sustainable pollinator gardens on the TWU Denton campus will also serve as observatories and laboratories. In addition, these gardens will serve as models for others who wish to create sustainable spaces on their campuses, town squares or own back yards.

Approach:

Our particular focus in water conservation is through the creation of gardens using drought-resistant plants native to Texas. They will serve as a model for chemical-free landscaping on our campus and in our community. Understanding the value of water as a resource is the key to its conservation. Our project is designed to educate our constituents about water quality and quantity‒why they should care, and what they can do about it.

We will transform lawns, which require a lot of water and fertilizer, in certain areas on campus into more sustainable pollinator gardens requiring much less maintenance, thus contributing to water conservation and reducing pollution from pesticides and fertilizers. A committee of faculty and student leaders will manage all aspects of the project‒from irrigation system design, to planting and maintenance, to research and educational outreach‒as an academic teaching tool through course-based activities and volunteerism in student organizations. Faculty-led research will include a species census, water and soil testing, and other ecological studies designed to educate us all about plant-pollinator relationships. Various community partners will provide expertise and receive in-kind support from this project. Further, faculty and students will lead educational outreach activities for the public to learn how they can conserve water and preserve or restore wildlife habitat at home or work.

Expected Results:

It is anticipated that this project will inform our students and citizenry about water and pollinator sustainability questions. A variety of assessment tools will be used to evaluate students’ ability to collaborate, apply their knowledge, and solve problems. Students and faculty will create presentations (oral and poster) documenting our process and sharing the results with the public. We will connect with local schools to share our work and results, and help them create sustainable pollinator gardens, thus increasing habitat for declining pollinator populations. We will publish the results of our work in both journals and press releases.

Supplemental Keywords:

Water conservation, water pollution, sustainable water management, water conservation education, model for sustainability, design for the environment, sustainable pollinator gardens, sustainable landscaping, drought-tolerant landscaping, native plant landscaping;