Developing Sustainable Pollinator Gardens for Habitat, Water Conservation, and EducationEPA Grant Number: SV839357
Title: Developing Sustainable Pollinator Gardens for Habitat, Water Conservation, and Education
Investigators: Maier, Camelia
Institution: Texas Woman's University
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Project Period: March 1, 2018 through February 29, 2020
Project Amount: $74,932
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2017)
Research Category: P3 Awards , Sustainability , P3 Challenge Area - Water
The primary goal of this proposed project is educating our students and citizenry about sustainability issues, thus helping them become active citizens in finding solutions to current environmental issues, particularly regarding water and pollinator conservation. One of the impediments to moving toward a more sustainable planet is the lack of engagement by ordinary citizens because they (1) do not know about environmental issues; (2) know and care about the issues, but do not know what sustainable actions to take; or (3) know about the issues and simply do not care. One simple action that caring people can do is to plant sustainable landscapes using native plants. These gardens will create habitats for insects and birds and be places of beauty. More importantly these gardens require little or no maintenance, thus contributing to water conservation and reduced pollution from pesticides and fertilizers. This project aims to create sustainable pollinator gardens on the TWU Denton campus that can serve as observatories and laboratories as well as beautiful habitats. Because North Texas is in the narrow portion of the monarch butterfly migration flyway, we have a unique opportunity to contribute to enhancing the monarch butterfly population by creating way stop stations. Through our educational programs at TWU, we will directly involve students from many disciplines in planting, maintenance, research and educational outreach. 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.
The phase I project can be considered a pilot project that will help build the Phase II project. The Phase II garden will honor Dr. Bettye Myers, a long time faculty member and excellent educator at TWU. The much larger Phase II garden (0.3 acres) will continue the specific aims of Phase I proposal in addition to its specific research objectives listed below:
Specific Aim 1. To create and maintain sustainable pollinator gardens on campus for use as academic teaching and research venues as well as educational tools for the TWU and Denton area communities.
Specific Aim 2. To monitor and report the composition and evolution of the garden wildlife populations (butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, etc.) over time.
Specific Aim 3. To compare water consumption in both traditional landscapes and native plant pollinator gardens.
Specific Aim 4. To initiate and maintain relationships and collaborations with community partners as a way of sharing information and education.
Specific Aim 5. A) To create a step-by-step handbook on the importance and development of sustainable pollinator gardens that will serve other campuses and stakeholders who may wish to develop similar gardens in their communities. B) To create educational and accessible signage for the garden identifying the garden inhabitants, the value of water conservation, and sustainability practices.
The specific objectives of the proposed research for Phase II of the project is to study plant- pollinator interactions through student and faculty projects and provide science-based advice to land managers and policy makers for the purpose of crop improvement and biodiversity enhancement. With respect to the outreach objective, we will continue educating students, partners and other members of the surrounding communities on sustainability practices and environmental protection.
In the short period of time of working on the Phase I project, we are very pleased with the outcomes. We have recruited students (individuals and student organizations), faculty, staff, and community partners to become involved in the project at different levels and increase their skills in becoming stewards of sustainability practices. The workdays in the garden provided sustainability education to diverse courses, from an Honors class to Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), “Pioneering Pathways: Learn by Doing” courses in Plant Biology, Ecology, Environmental Chemistry and Community Conversations in Sustainability. Dissemination of results and sustainability practices in restoring habitats for pollinators started with successful activities and contributed to recruiting new partners from the local Native Plant Society chapter to the City of Denton. We are encouraged that we have met the short-term and even some medium-term outcomes and we will continue building on them during Phase II activities.