There was a big group of third grade students, Imperial FFA members, presenters and volunteers who gathered at the Wanamaker Wildlife Management Area earlier this month for the third youth pollinator planting project. (Courtesy photo)

Pheasants Forever coordinates third youth pollinator planting project

    A third youth pollinator event was hosted by the Southwestern Nebraska Pheasants Forever Chapter May 9.  
    The annual Youth Pollinator Habitat Project was completed with the help of the Chase County Schools third grade classes, members of the Imperial FFA chapter, NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) and Nebraska Game and Parks.  
    The project was planted on a half-acre at the Wanamaker Wildlife Management Area, just west of Imperial.
    Pollinating insects are an essential component in global food production, according to Heather Francis, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist.
    It is estimated that one out of every three bites of a person’s food has needed insect or animal pollination. Nineteen billion dollars are contributed to U.S. crop production by honey bees alone.  
    She noted pollinators have been in sharp decline over the recent years due to lack of available habitat. Without pollinators, 75 percent of the plant species in the world can’t produce fruits or seeds.
    Pheasants Forever (PF) and Quail Forever (QF) have developed the Youth Pollinator Habitat Program to support local chapters in engaging youth, families and communities across the country in establishing and monitoring pollinator habitat areas.  
    The results of this program project will benefit pollinators, she said, as well as establish critical brood rearing habitat for quail and pheasants.  
    It’s an important local project area that will serve as an on-going pollinator habitat education site.  
    “During the rest of the spring and into the summer, this area may seem ‘weedy.’ This is normal for a pollinator habitat area as 80 percent of the mix planted includes native forbs,” she said.  
    Native forbs come in all sizes, plant structure, plant size and colors. This area will not have overall herbicide treatment, as the plants planted there are not all weeds.  
    “This is a high diversity planting to help provide plants that will bloom from April through October,” Francis added.  “Weeds are plants that are out of place; these plants aren’t out of place.”

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