DENTON (UNT), Texas — Habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change have led to declining pollinator populations around the world, but University of North Texas faculty, staff and students are working together to ensure these animals have what they need to help the environment thrive.
The efforts to engage the campus in enhancing pollinator habitat and promoting pollinator conservation education have earned UNT a renewal of its Bee Campus USA certification for 2020 following a rigorous review process. UNT initially earned this status in 2016 when it became the first Bee Campus USA affiliate in Texas.
Bee Campus USA, an initiative of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, brings campus communities together to sustain pollinators by creating and enhancing habitat, reducing pesticide use and spreading awareness. Pollinators, including bees, butterflies, moths, bats and hummingbirds, are responsible for the reproduction of 85 percent of the world's flowering plants and more than two-thirds of the world’s crop species.
Through educational workshops, service-learning opportunities and special landscaping projects, UNT is focused on pollinator conservation and spreading awareness about the importance of pollinators in our everyday lives. Campus greenspaces such as the Community Garden, Natural Dye Garden and Pecan Creek Pollinative Prairie have been designed to promote pollinator health and habitat. In 2019, UNT installed 19 educational outdoor signs to identify healthy pollinator habitats across campus and educate the community about its work as a Bee Campus USA affiliate. In January, the university also welcomed Elinor Lichtenberg, a leading pollinator expert and researcher, as a faculty member in the College of Science.
“We encourage our UNT community members to be gracious stewards of our environment and are proud to be designated as a Bee Campus USA affiliate. This certification is a testament to our commitment to sustainability and could not be earned without the collaborative work and expertise of many across our university,” said Emily Bilcik, chair of the UNT Bee Campus USA committee and project coordinator for the We Mean Green Fund.