2023 NAPPC Awardees: What are they up to? by Shannon Farmer, NAPPC Coordinator, Pollinator Partnership

July 5th, 2024

Every year, the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), in conjunction with several partners, solicits nominations for eight prestigious awards: the Pollinator Advocate Award (three countries), the Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award (three countries), the Pollinator Roadside Management Award, and the Pollinator Electric Power Award. As we prepare for the 2024 nominations and awards, we interviewed some of our 2023 winners and asked them to update us on their projects. Read on to gain some insight to some of our incredible Awardee’s successes.

Electric Power Awardee: Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)

We originally heard of the Electric Power Award through our membership in Electric Power Research Institute’s Power in Pollinators Initiative. The goal for the Bonneville Power Project is to replace non-native vegetation on a section of fee-owned Rights of Way (ROW) in Forest Park to further support native pollinators.

Each year, the habitat grows and allows native pollinators to thrive in this section of ROW. Recently, we sponsored an employee volunteer event to celebrate Earth Day on the newly enhanced section of ROW. Volunteers removed invasive species such as scotch broom and Himalayan blackberry to allow the native plants to thrive. The cleanup event not only helped keep invasives in check, but also provided an opportunity for BPA and Portland Parks and Recreation to work together again on this ROW.

We want to share with the NAPPC community that we are excited to continue to get new projects off the ground with local partners that are similar in nature to the Forest Park project. We also continue to educate our BPA community across our region about the importance of supporting pollinators both in their work at BPA and at home. We find our BPA community to be very open and excited about supporting pollinators.

Electric Power Award Runner-Up: Headwaters at the Comal

Our project, Headwaters at the Comal, is the restoration of a 16-acre retired utility warehouse/fleet facility at the headwaters springs of the Comal River in Texas. One third of the project scope has been completed. An on-going capital campaign is bringing us closer to the completion of the next third of the project. As the project continues to expand, so do our education and outreach efforts. We focus on the importance of native plants and pollinator habitat for the health of our watershed and overall environment.

We were excited to hear from a local landscaping firm that they need to increase their knowledge base on native plants because there are so many more requests coming for drought-tolerant, non-turf, native landscaping options. We aspire to convert as many people as possible into native plant loving, turf-reducing, pollinator habitat creating community members!

Roadside Management Award: The Tennessee Pollinator Habitat Program

The Tennessee Pollinator Habitat Program, led by TDOT, aims to protect and support pollinator species through education, partnerships, and environmental practices. The program promotes the creation and restoration of habitats for pollinators like bees, butterflies, and bats, while also educating the public about their importance.

Key initiatives include:

  • Partners for Pollinators Working Group- a multi-agency collaboration between four State of Tennessee agencies, non-profit partners, and consultants.

  • Polli, The Bee from Tennessee- online educational resources for the public and schools.

  • Project Milkweed- which distributes free milkweed seeds to support monarch butterflies.

  • Find an Expert- an online resource to connect groups to pollinator expert presenters in their area.

  • TN Database and Online Map Tool- a free, in-depth database of native Tennessee Pollinator flora and fauna.

  • Pollinator Meadows at Welcome Centers and State Parks- These meadows not only support pollinators, but also serve as educational sites to raise awareness. To date there are ten sites totaling +/- 42 acres with an additional 20 acres proposed for 2024.

The biggest milestone after receiving the award was the launch of Project Milkweed during Pollinator Week in 2023. In response to the declining Monarch Butterfly population, TDOT began offering free milkweed seeds to Tennessee residents, complete with planting design and installation guidelines. The project quickly went viral, resulting in nearly 780,000 packets of Red and Common Milkweed being mailed out.

Additionally, we are thrilled to announce the second year of Project Milkweed, relaunched during Pollinator Week 2024 with 669,000 packets to give away. We are excited about building more pollinator meadows at four new sites across the state.

Canadian Pollinator Advocate Award: Evan Howells

In 2023, I was honored to be chosen as the Canadian recipient of NAPPC’s Pollinator Advocate Award for my research and advocacy efforts to conserve native bumble bees in the Yukon. The Yukon is home to 28 species of native bumble bees, four of which are of conservation concern nationally. At age 13, I began collecting data for the first Yukon study comparing pollen foraging of native bumble bees and apiary-based honey bees in natural landscapes. I collected data for three years before sharing my study results in 2023 which showed the pollen choices of both types of bees were similar, however, bumble bees collected more diverse pollen than honey bees on each foraging trip. This information will help guide further beekeeping and landscaping practices to maintain regional native bee populations. To raise awareness of the needs of native bumble bees, I shared my findings with all levels of government, stakeholders, and the public. I also created a fact sheet to promote planting of native flowers and other tips to protect native bumble bees which is featured on Bee City Canada’s website.

Since receiving the 2023 Pollinator Advocate Award, I presented my study at the 2023 MILSET Expo International Science Fair in Mexico as a member of Team Canada and was honored with the 2023 Nature Inspiration Award (Youth Category) from the Canadian Museum of Nature. These awards and being part of Team Canada gave me unique opportunities to share my findings nationally and internationally and highlight how we can protect native pollinators around the world. On a local level, I continue to encourage bee-friendly initiatives in Whitehorse including the recent promotion of Pollinator Week.

Through my bee study, I learned the importance of conducting scientific research for the betterment of my community, the benefits of communicating my findings, and the significance of collaboration to inspire change. This experience has shown me the impact I can have as a youth leader in engaging my community to help make a difference for our native pollinators.

United States Farmer Rancher Award: Stuart Woolf from Woolf Farming

Woolf Farming has been early adopters, working with our strategic partner, Danone, to invest in cover crops/bee habitat. We were somewhat unique in that we were doing at this scale. In addition, we were encouraging other growers who deliver almonds to our facility to do the same by offering economic incentives.

The almond industry has been suffering from exceptionally low pricing and returns so a lot of growers are reluctant to take on additional costs during these tough times. With that said, we had several hundred additional acres enroll in our program and expect to have more in the future when the almond market stabilizes. I tend to be more focused on other aspects of our business but have pointed our team in the direction of better bee health.

I love the idea of a NAPPC community with the common interest of improving pollinator health. It’s people coming together and recognizing such efforts as our own that will help build awareness and action to move the needle. I’d like to think we’re moving it, but it has a lot further to go!

If you are inspired by our 2023 NAPPC Awardee stories and know someone who might be a candidate for one of the awards this year, please nominate them here. Nomination forms are open until July 19th, 2024.