NWF Teams Up with Ann Arbor School for Pollinator Habitat
Many of the 100,000 University of Michigan football fans walking to Michigan Stadium for early-season home games may soon see some more bees and butterflies.
Ann Arbor Pioneer High School’s Pioneer Prairie – just down Main Street from Michigan Stadium – was originally planted in 1991 and 1992 by volunteers from Pheasants Forever and the Sierra Club. Earlier this month the National Wildlife Federation teamed up with a group of community leaders called The Wolfpack and Pioneer students, teachers and alumni to replant the prairie with a mix of native wildflowers and grasses to increase the biodiversity of the prairie for critical pollinators like bees and butterflies.
Manja Holland, PhD, Great Lakes Regional Education Manager for National Wildlife Federation remarked,
“We’re increasing the plant diversity so we can get a greater diversity of pollinators here. Pollinators are facing global declines, in fact, (an estimated) 50% of the pollinators in our region – the native pollinators, so bees and butterflies – have disappeared.”
That was the primary motivation for volunteer Pat Shure, a member of The Wolfpack. “What we need is more bees and more butterflies,” she said.
The grasses and wildflowers selected for the project are native to southeast Michigan, said David Mindell of PlantWise Native Landscapes and Ecological Restoration in Ann Arbor, which was contracted to help with the project. The grasses will provide cover for birds and small mammals, while the wildflowers will attract pollinators and insects, which also provide food for birds.
“We’re also pursuing this project so that we can create a really nice outdoor space and outdoor laboratory for the students so that they can come out here and have some hands-on place-based learning experiences,” said Holland. “This will benefit students for generations to come.” -Manja Holland
Holland singled out Dustin Quandt, the Environmental Science AP teacher for Ann Arbor High School. “He has been leading the effort in getting students out to the prairie.”
“It’s exciting now but it will be even more exciting as the weeks go by and we see the plants,” said Gwen Thayer-Handleman, a member of The Wolfpack and a 1962 alumni of the high school.