GOSHEN — Bee City USA has renewed Goshen College’s Bee Campus USA certification for 2019 following a rigorous renewal application process. Goshen College was named Indiana’s first Bee Campus USA for its work in supporting pollinators such as bees.

The Bee Campus USA title recognizes colleges and universities that commit to a set of practices that support pollinators, including bees, butterflies, birds, bats and thousands of other species. There are currently 68 universities in the United States with the Bee Campus USA certification.

“Bee Campus Certification indicates that we are managing natural spaces on our campus in ways that benefit both pollinators and the human population at Goshen College,” said Kevin Miller, Goshen College’s sustainability coordinator. “Supporting native prairie restoration provides countless flowering plants for pollinators that wouldn’t be there if those spaces were lawn or asphalt parking lots.”

With 12 acres of restored prairie making up 20 percent of campus lawn and managed without the use of irrigation, pesticides or herbicides, the college provides a rich habitat with nectar and pollen for honeybees and other pollinators. The college is also home to several beehives on campus and at its Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center.

“The Certification also provides an ongoing reminder of the value of supporting pollinators and invites us to imagine additional ways we can extend or enhance pollinator habitat and educate our campus community, and the surrounding community, of the essential function pollinators play in our lives,” Miller said.

Andy Ammons, associate professor of biology, teaches a class titled “Pollinators in Peril,” in which students learn about the importance of pollinators to the environment and to humans who depend on them for food. Students are directly engaged in the prairies and beehives on campus, as well as harvesting honey.

“It’s important to appreciate what pollinators do for us,” Ammons said. “One-third of all the food you and I eat comes from plants that have been pollinated. If we keep threatening these pollinators like bees and butterflies, we’re creating risks to our own food security. Our food, especially our most nutritious food, is most at risk when pollinators are at risk.”

As part of the Bee Campus USA application, Goshen College has organized a bee campus committee made up of students, faculty and staff who have expressed an interest in keeping GC pollinator friendly.

Students from the Bee Committee worked with AVI Fresh, the campus dining service, to create a Pollinator and Dandelion Day at the Westlawn Dining Hall on campus in April. Students collected dandelion leaves and flowers for the dining hall to be made into a pollinator salad and dandelion cookies.

“AVI is glad to partner with the college to help pollinators,” said Jeremy Corson, AVI Fresh resident director and head chef. “As a person who keeps bees, this is a great step for our community.”

The Bee Campus USA program requires educational institutions to make seven commitments, including: maintaining Bee Campus USA committee, hosting an annual campus event to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, annually sponsor and track student service-learning projects to enhance pollinator habitats on- and off-campus, offering a course or workshop on related to pollinators, post signage regarding pollinators to educate the campus and broader community about pollinator-friendly landscaping principles  and maintaining a Bee Campus webpage.

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