By Ginny Varraveto, contributed by Johnson County Extension
Did you know that both Kansas and Missouri have officially proclaimed June 19 – 25, 2023, “Pollinator Week?” This nationally recognized celebration, founded and managed by the Pollinator Partnership, aims to raise awareness about pollinators, their health and their ecosystems.
Each year individual states are encouraged to issue proclamations designating Pollinator Week and renew commitments to protect and maintain pollinators and their habitats.
Pollinating birds and insects are widely recognized as essential, not only for food production, but also for maintaining healthy forests, grasslands, and other natural areas that provide important resources, recreational enjoyment and economic benefits.
For Pollinator Week, groups and individuals across the United States, as well as Canada and Mexico, register events on an interactive map at pollinator.org. Activities range from public nature walks and education sessions to individual celebrations and backyard garden parties. This year the Johnson County Extension Master Nationalists are hosting the Wonders of Discovery event for the 9th year.
This free event will feature exhibits, games and activities for all ages on Friday, June 23 at the Pollinator Prairie in Olathe. The gardens there include diverse native grasses and wildflowers, representing the tallgrass prairie ecosystem that once covered much of Kansas and Missouri.
Tallgrass prairie supports many beneficial insects like solitary, ground-nesting bees. These bees are among the most effective pollinators and the most common kind of native bee. The event will include an exhibit highlighting these and other native bees.
On the tallgrass prairie, some of the more delightful looking pollinators, like the ruby-throated hummingbird and the black swallowtail butterfly, flit among flowers sipping nectar and transferring pollen.
At the Pollinator Prairie, coneflower, coreopsis and a range of white, pink and orange milkweeds bloom in June. The colorful array attracts scores of pollinators like fuzzy bumblebees, tiny green sweat bees, checkered skippers and monarch butterflies.
This year, Pollinator Week is emphasizing “the connection between climate and pollinators,” noting the negative effects of pollution and climate change. This is especially relevant for Kansas and Missouri as more extreme weather patterns put stress on pollinators and the plants that they need to survive.
Pollinator.org recommends that communities reduce their impact by reducing or eliminating pesticide use, increasing green spaces and minimizing urbanization. Planting drought-tolerant native plants is a great way to benefit pollinators. The Pollinator Prairie shows how a designed native planting offers beauty and enjoyment to the community while providing habitat and food for pollinators.
One of the most important ways to get involved is to educate yourself and others. What better time to start learning and experience the vibrant world of pollinators than during Pollinator Week?
The free Wonders of Discovery event will be held Friday, June 23 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Pollinator Prairie, 320 S. Blake St., Olathe, KS. To learn more, visit johnson.k-state.edu.
To learn more about Pollinator Week and the Pollinator Partnership, visit pollinator.org.