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Habitat tour attendees admire different plants and pollinators at Wanamaker last week. (Johnson Publications photo)

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Heather Francis shows habitat tour attendees the difference between two types of milkweed. At left is Showy Milkweed, which has hoods that are much larger and longer. Francis is holding Common Milkweed, which has smaller hoods. (Johnson Publications photo)

Habitat tour urges people: get outside

    As a belated celebration of National Pollinator Week, Heather Francis, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist in Imperial, led a group of more than 20 on a habitat tour last week.
    Pollinators are animals that assist in the pollination of plants. Most of the time these are insects.
    “Anything that blooms or has a blossom has to be pollinated,” Francis said.
    The group started their education about pollinator-required products at the Beverage Barn, where owner Donna Vlasin led a taste testing of different wines and spirits that require pollinators to be made.
    One beverage that was tasted was a mead from Redstone Meadery in Boulder, Colorado.
    Mead is a wine made from honey, which is a pollinator.
    The flavor sampled was also made with vanilla bean and cinnamon.
    “Those spices are all made possible by pollinators,” Vlasin said.
    “Do you like chocolate? Coffee? Almonds? Apples? Bananas? Tequila?” Francis asked the group.
    “If you like a good margarita then we gotta have insect pollinators,” she joked.
    After the Beverage Barn, the group headed northwest of Imperial to the Wanamaker Wildlife Management Area.
    Over the past four years at Wanamaker, third-grade students, assisted by local FFA members, have planted different species of pollinator plants in half-acre sections.
    Attendees enjoyed observing the flowering pollinators. Some, to Francis’ suggestion, had brought cameras to photograph the plants.
    Francis was available to answer questions about certain plants. Also available was Nadine Bishop, NRCS State Range Specialist; Sydney Hancock, Farm Bill Biologist from Lincoln; and Jenny Prenosil, Coordinating Wildlife Biologist from the State Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office.
    The evening ended with a taco supper at the Pheasants Forever Youth Memorial Park, west of Champion.


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