Pollinator Conservation Training

2010 Annual Report for ENC09-111

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2009: $72,168.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Eric Mader
The Xerces Society

Pollinator Conservation Training


Pollinators are essential to our environment. The ecological service they provide is necessary for more than two-thirds of the world’s crop species. Despite this, the essential service of pollination is at risk. Habitat loss, as well as pesticide use, has contributed to recent pollinator declines.

Extensive research now demonstrates, however, that protecting or restoring natural habitat on farms is the best way to conserve native pollinators and, at the same time, provide resources that support local honey bees.

In response, the current Farm Bill offers specific support for the creation and protection of wildflower plantings and pollinator nest site sites through USDA conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and others.

At the national level, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has developed guidelines on how to provide pollinator habitat on working farms, but the knowledge to implement these habitat enhancements has not been cultivated at the field office level or among partner agencies and farm educators. This lack of knowledge represents a key constraint to the wider adoption of pollinator conservation.

To overcome that barrier, this project is making in-depth pollinator conservation training available to NRCS conservationists, Soil and Water Conservation District farm planners, Cooperative Extension personnel, state departments of agriculture and natural resources, crop consultants, non-governmental conservation organizations, and the growers of bee-pollinated crops.

This training consists of a full day Short Course on basic pollinator biology, native bee identification, bee-friendly farm management practices, designing and implementing habitat enhancements, and how to use NRCS programs for pollinator conservation. The Short Course is being offered in all nine North Central SARE states with collaboration by multiple partner organizations including academic institutions, Cooperative Extension, the NRCS and others.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Nine Pollinator Conservation Planning Short Courses with only 30 participants each may directly benefit pollinators on 27,000 acres of land and result in 45 new enrollments in NRCS and FSA administered programs.


During the reporting period, we conducted 5 Short Courses in 5 states that were attended by more than 230 participants. The primary audiences at these events were staff from the NRCS, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and Extension, as well as a number of individual farmers, researchers, master gardeners, naturalists, and beekeepers.

Here is some feedback we’ve received so far:

“Excellent presentation, packets, and speaker! A+”
Agricultural Support Staff, Iowa Workshop

“More than fulfilled! This was an excellent day. Thank you Jennifer and Xerces.”
USFWS Biologist, Kansas Workshop

“I wanted to learn enough to provide support to local volunteer efforts to conserve pollinators- and I feel much better prepared now. Thanks.”
Park District Employee, Illinois Workshop

“Everything [was important]! I have really had an eye opening experience. I had no idea how “needed” wild/native bees and other insects are and how endangered they are. My expectation was to learn basics of pollinators. This was an excellent presentation and benefited me greatly. Thank you!”
SWCD Employee, Michigan Workshop

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Based upon initial evaluations, we are on track to exceed our performance target. To date, more than 230 people have participated in the Short Course (our overall performance target was 30 participants per course for a total of 150 participants for 5 courses).

In addition, we continue to raise awareness among farm educators about pollinators in a way that is directly affecting their work. Specifically, based upon post event questionnaires, 97% of agricultural support professionals said that the Short Course changed how they would advise farmers on management practices to support pollinators, and 95% of participants said they planned to incorporate pollinator conservation into their own outreach efforts.

While the Short Course specifically targets farm educators and farm agency staff, a number of farmers attended each event. Among them, 94% said that attending the Short Course changed how they would support pollinators on their farms.

Finally, specific feedback from Short Course participants is consistently and overwhelming positive.

No negative unplanned challenges have arisen during the reporting period. Our ability to organize and deliver Short Courses continues to be strong. The single unanticipated challenge we have faced is a larger than expected interest in Short Course enrollment. In our project proposal we budgeted for a maximum of 30 participants at each event (based upon previous experience outside the region). The actual number of registrants in most cases has far exceeded that anticipated target.


Scott Black

[email protected]
Executive Director
The Xerces Society
4828 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR 97215
Office Phone: 5032326639
Website: www.xerces.org
Jennifer Hopwood

[email protected]
Midwest Pollinator Outreach Coordinator
The Xerces Society
4828 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR 97215
Office Phone: 5032326639
Website: www.xerces.org