Kansas Rural Center Awarded Grant to Promote Pollinators in Douglas County
June 9, 2014 – The Kansas Rural Center (KRC) has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Elizabeth Schultz Environmental Fund for a project aimed at promoting pollinator awareness and conservation. Throughout 2014, KRC will host a series of workshops designed to increase the number of honeybees and beekeepers, the quantity and quality of pollinator habitat, and access to locally-produced honey, in Douglas County. The dates, locations, and speaker line-ups for the workshops will be announced early in 2014.
According to Julie Mettenburg, Executive Director of the Kansas Rural Center: “Pollinator conservation is a timely and urgent undertaking, and a good focus for the organization, because pollinators play a critical role in food production and are a key component of a healthy agricultural landscape.”
Honeybees are particularly important to production of food crops in the US. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that one-quarter of the American diet depends on food that is pollinated by honeybees. In 2006, a precipitous decline in global honeybee populations was first noticed, and by 2009, 30% of the global honeybee population had been wiped out. To date, the condition that is now referred to as “Colony Collapse Disorder” has decimated 50% of all honeybee colonies.
By providing training and equipment to aspiring beekeepers, KRC hopes to shore up the honeybee population in Douglas County, and to promote sustainable beekeeping and local honey production.
Additionally, KRC hopes to promote conservation of pollinator species of all kinds. There are around 4000 species of native bees in the US, and these populations are critical to maintaining biodiversity. Habitat loss, and decreasing diversity in remaining habitat, play an enormous role in the decline of many pollinator species. Monoculture agricultural production, which dominates the Kansas agricultural landscape, does not adequately support pollinator populations.
Working with Douglas County Extension and bringing in experts in pollinator habitat and conservation, KRC aims to increase the quantity and quality of pollinator habitat in Douglas County through education and information on creating pollinator habitat and funding opportunities that exist to help finance pollinator habitat projects.
KRC has a long history of working to advance diversified farming systems that enhance biodiversity and preserve and improve the soil, water and air. For more information about the Kansas Rural Center, please visit www.kansasruralcenter.org. More information about the pollinator project will be provided on the website, as it develops.