Pollinator Conservation Training

2011 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


The Pollinator Conservation Planning Short Course is a full day Professional Development Program 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 twelve North Central SARE states with collaboration by multiple partner organizations including academic institutions, Cooperative Extension, the NRCS, and others.

This Short Course is designed in response to the highly-publicized loss of pollinators resulting from habitat loss, pesticide use, and other factors, and it will support greater crop security for producers of bee pollinated crops, such as fruits, vegetables, oilseeds and forage seed crops.

In response to those declines, the current Farm Bill offers support for the creation and protection of wildflower plantings and pollinator nest site sites through programs administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The knowledge necessary to implement those programs, however, has not yet been fully developed at the field office level. By providing training to NRCS staff and other farm educators, such as Cooperative Extension personnel, state departments of agriculture and natural resources, crop consultants, and others, we are filling that void.

Nine of these Short Courses are supported with SARE funds, with leveraged, non-SARE funding making additional Short Course opportunities available to SARE audiences in many states.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Our specific performance target for the Pollinator Conservation Short Course has been to reach at least 30 participants at each event, who are capable of influencing at least 100 acres of land in a way that benefits pollinators (often by recommending simple modifications to practices such as mowing, or the timing of pesticide applications among their constituent audiences).

Based upon that target, a single Short Course with only 30 participants may result in the adoption of pollinator-friendly land management practices on at least 3000 acres. Nine such events with 30 participants each may thus directly benefit pollinators on 27,000 acres of land.
Every effort has been made to maximize attendance beyond this baseline, however, and to have an even larger post-event impact. Through small successive steps, we are able to affect large-scale change.


During the reporting period, we conducted four Short Courses in four states that were attended by more than 160 participants (exceeding our attendance performance target). The primary audiences at these events were staff from the NRCS, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Cooperative Extension, and state departments of agriculture, as well as a number of individual farmers, crop consultants, researchers, beekeepers, and naturalists.

Here is some feedback we’ve received on the courses:

“Expectations met and exceeded. This was fantastic! Thanks so much for offering this! I want to help you offer this in my area too!”
Farmer, beekeeper, and coordinator of master naturalist program, Ohio Workshop

“I understand more fully the role of pollinators in our environment. Expectations were definitely met.”
Horticulturalist, Indiana Workshop

“I came to learn more about native pollinators and you did a great job teaching me.”
Biologist/Entomologist Agricultural Support Staff, Indiana Workshop

“I wanted to learn more about bee pollination and you covered all my expectations. Thanks!”
Biologist/Entomologist, South Dakota Workshop

“Excellent program, great information! Jennifer does a wonderful job.”
Biologist/Entomologist Agricultural Support Staff, South Dakota Workshop

“Beyond my expectations. Jennifer did an excellent job.”
Horticulturalist, Ohio Workshop

“I wanted to learn basic ID skills for bees and learn about how to promote their conservation. It was FANTASTIC!”
Agricultural Support Staff, Nebraska Workshop

“[My expectations?] To hear more about pollinator basics and land management/conservation tactics. Yes, they were fulfilled! Xerces rules!”
Biologist/Entomologist, Nebraska Workshop

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

To date, more than 400 people have participated in the Short Courses in nine different states since the beginning of the project, for an average of 45 participants per course (our overall performance target was 270 total participants).

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, 94% of responding agricultural support professionals said that the Short Course changed how they would advise farmers on management practices to support pollinators, and that they planned to encourage the adoption of pollinator habitat enhancements by the growers they work with through Farm Bill conservation programs.

While the Short Course specifically targets farm educators and farm agency staff, a number of farmers attended each event. Among them, 95% of respondents said that attending the Short Course changed how they would support pollinators on their farms.

No negative unplanned challenges arose during this reporting period. The single unanticipated challenge we have continued to face is a larger than expected interest in Short Course enrollment. We originally budgeted for a maximum of 30 participants at each event (based upon previous experience outside the region), but the actual number of registrants in most cases has continued to exceed 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