Fox Valley Park District connects people and pollinators

The first step in saving monarch butterflies and native bees is knowing why they're in trouble and how to help.

The Fox Valley Park District has made spreading the word about pollinators a priority with an extensive lineup of programs, classes and community events.

It offers an array of innovative and inclusive programs about bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects for children, students, scouts and families.

For its extensive and ongoing contributions to pollinator awareness, Fox Valley Park District has received the 2022 Pat Miller Community Engagement Award.

The once abundant rusty-patched bumble bee is now rarely seen and has been designated as endangered. Monarchs have suffered a similar fate, going from being a frequent garden visitor to endangered but wait-listed for official designation until additional conservation resources become available.

The future of the insects that pollinate many of our food crops rests in the hands of the next generation of conservationists, the young people who are now connecting with nature. Fox Valley Park District makes those connections possible.

Thee park district offers classes about insects for kindergarten to fifth grade, beginning with introducing pollination, progressing to the relationship between pollinators and their habitat and the impact of biodiversity on prairies. Soon middle and high school students will have a chance to learn about land stewardship practices.

BugFest, the district's premier outdoor pollinator event, promotes interactions with the habitats that sustain wild bees and butterflies in a fun family-fest atmosphere.

"Not only does the FVPD provide top quality recreational services to their community, they are also respected for their conservation and environmental sustainability programs," said Brook McDonald, The Conservation Foundation president and CEO. "The FVPD has helped monarch butterflies, native bees and other pollinators through their native gardens and habitat restorations."

The park district's community engagement includes posting educational signage at their natural areas. The interpretive signs offer information about native plants and their value for bees and butterflies which visitors can then use in their own gardens.

"The FVPD is a deserving recipient of the Pat Miller Community Engagement Award," McDonald said. "The Conservation Foundation is proud to be a partner with the FVPD on land acquisition and other conservation efforts. Congratulations to the hardworking employees of the FVPD and their leadership."

Fox Valley Park District's commitment to community engagement will be recognized at "Native Bees: Why Are They Important and How Can We Help Them?," a virtual program hosted by The Conservation Foundation at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5.

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