What is “Planting for Pollinators”?

In April 2018, Prairielands Council will kick-off Planting for Pollinators, a massive conservation project to protect and promote sustainable habitat for butterflies and bees. Pollinators are responsible for many of the foods that make our diet colorful--without them, we don’t eat! Besides this, they also pollinate many wildflowers. You may have heard that bees are disappearing and butterflies are dying. These and other animal pollinators face many challenges in the modern world. Habitat loss, disease, parasites, and environmental contaminants have all contributed to the decline of many species of pollinators.

Scouts are looking to halt and reverse this trend. The the bees and the caterpillars that eventually become butterflies depend on native plants for their food source. With Planting for Pollinators, Scouts will be encouraging not just the protection of existing stands of native plants, but planting and cultivating more of this vital pollinator food. How can you help? Simple. Protect native flowers where you see them and plant more. They are usually not difficult plants to cultivate because they are adapted to this area. Most natives are perennials, so once you plant and establish them this spring, your plants will return the following year to help feed the next generation of butterflies and bees.

What can you do to help?

Take the Planting For Pollinators Pledge

  1. Download the Planting for Pollinators Pledge.
  2. Complete the pledge form.
  3. Return the pledge to the Raymond Lee Scout Service Center, C/O Parker Arnholt or email a scanned copy to prairielandsbsa@gmail.com.
  4. Return your pledge to Prairielands Council to receive your a packet of pollinator seeds in April for spring planting

Plant A Garden

Participating units will choose a location in their community to plant a pollinator garden.  Consider places such as schools, community centers, or a member’s home.  Make sure to get permission to use the space. Go to our Pollinator Garden Sign Up Form to participate.

Think about which plants you would like to include.  A variety of native flowers provide good food sources for bees and butterflies.  Different species of bees and butterflies often prefer different food sources (for example, you might know that Monarch caterpillars need milkweed), so think about who you’d like to attract to your garden.  You’ll also want to think about the conditions of the spot you’ve chosen to plant your garden.  Some plants are more tolerant of shade or wet soil than others.  This guide from the Xerces Society is a good place to start. Click HERE for the guide.

If you’re planting outside:

  • Plant seeds in moist soil after the threat of frost.
  • Read the seed package to find out how deep and how far apart from each other to plant the seeds
  • If starting your plants by planting indoors:
  • Start plants in pots using the same planting depth and spacing as if you were planting outside.
  • Place seedlings near a window or fan so that their stems are strengthened from air movement.
  • Allow 4-8 weeks growing time before moving your plants to ground outside.

To continue growth:

  • Water your garden every few days until your plants are well-established.
  • In the winter, do not cut. Instead, allow some dead plant material to remain for birds and other wildlife to use

Ask your friends and family to join in the effort, for the pollinators could use all of our help to bounce back. And don’t forget to record your work to count towards your unit’s service hours!

Interested in using this opportunity to advance in Scouting? Click HERE to find out about badges, awards, and other advancement opportunities related to the council-wide service project. 

Join us for the Kick-off Event at Camp Robert Drake

Planting for Pollinators, Inspiring Conservation in Scouts and Their Families, is presented by the Prairielands Council, Boy Scouts of America and hosted by Camp Robert Drake. Please join us on April 7th from starting at 11am at Camp Drake as we celebrate the start of this brand new pollinator conservation program. At this event, we will present a workshop on how to get started with your pollinator garden project and hand out seed packets to those who have signed the pledge and committed to the project. Camp Drake is located at 9994 Camp Drake Rd, Fairmount, IL 61841.

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Proudly Wear the Prairielands Conservation Patch

A limited edition Prairielands Conservation patch will be available at an upcoming Camp Drake event and the Raymond Lee Scout Service Center for $6 each. Wear it proudly to show your commitment to this vital conservation effort.

Monitor Pollinators in Your Garden

Any time you’re implementing a strategy to conserve wildlife, it’s important to monitor the effects of your actions.  You want to know how well your strategy worked!  How many and what types of pollinators are using your garden?

Researchers at the University of Illinois are also interested in the pollinators visiting your gardens.  They are conducting a study to understand the effects of urbanization on bees, and the role that pollinator gardens play in bee conservation.  Your participation would really help!  If you would like to participate, you would need to collect data on the bees visiting your pollinator garden once each month over the course of the summer.  You would spend 30 minutes observing your garden and recording the different types of pollinators that you see.  A guide to pollinator identification, data entry sheets, and a brief training would be provided to get you started.  The data you provide will help build an understanding of strategies that can be used to protect pollinators, even in landscapes that are heavily influenced by human activity.  If you would like to get involved, please turn this Parental Consent Form to the council office.

Enter the Planting for Pollinators Photo Contest

  1. Take your best photos of native plants, caterpillars, butterflies, and bees.
  2. Submit your photos to prairielandsbsa@gmail.com.
  3. If your photo entry is used in the weekly newsletter, on any Prairielands website, in our marketing materials, or is selected among the top entries, you will be recognized as a Top Pollinator.

Still have questions about Planting for Pollinators? Contact Maddy Kangas, mkangas2@illinois.edu.