- Education and Training: general education and training
We will provide a Pollinator Conservation Short Course in all Southern states for more than 300 staff from the NRCS, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Certified Crop Advisors, the FSA, and Extension personnel. This Course provides real solutions to the decline of crop pollinators. Research demonstrates that native bees make a significant contribution to crop pollination—in some cases providing all pollination when enough habitat is available. To address this need for habitat, the 2008 Farm Bill makes pollinators a priority of USDA conservation programs. Each Course provides an overview of basic pollinator biology, bee identification, farm practices that support pollinators, habitat management guidelines, and how to implement pollinator conservation programs authorized in the Farm Bill. This is the first training to support Southern producers of bee-pollinated crops (blueberry, peach, citrus, cotton, cucumber, and watermelon). A recent NRCS survey documented that farmers want to conserve pollinators but need technical assistance to do so. This course will create that expertise. The Xerces Society is the oldest pollinator conservation organization in the U.S. and is ideally positioned to carry out this project, having already conducted this training in many other states with the support of farmers, local researchers, and habitat restoration specialists. Project success will be measured through a number of quantitative and qualitative metrics. Based upon extensive experience, we know that each Course participant goes on to positively influence at least 100 acres of farmland for pollinators and other wildlife. Finally, this project supports a new pollinator handbook published by SARE.
Project objectives from proposal:
The Pollinator Conservation Planning Short Course will be offered over two years, with six Courses conducted in the first year, seven in the second year. We have found, based upon extensive post-event surveys and anecdotal reporting, that each participant, on average, goes on to influence at least 100 acres of land in a way that benefits pollinators. Using these past measurements, a single Short Course with only 30 participants may result in the adoption of pollinator-friendly land management practices on at least 3,000 acres. Thirteen such Short Courses averaging 30 participants may directly benefit pollinators on 39,000 acres of land and result in 65 new enrollments in NRCS and FSA administered programs. This is the anticipated goal.