Innovative activity engages Josephine County students in pollinator education

In Josephine County and beyond, there is a growing concern about the declining population of pollinators, particularly bees, which play a crucial role in our ecosystem. The decline impacts our food supply and biodiversity. Many youths lack awareness of the significance of pollinators and the challenges they face, making additional education imperative.

In response, Oregon State University Extension Service 4-H Youth Development in Josephine County initiated an engaging hands-on activity for fifth graders at Fruitdale Elementary School in Grants Pass. The activity involved bristle bee bots, uniquely designed to educate and inspire youth about the vital role of pollinators. These small robots serve as an interactive tool to facilitate learning about the crucial role that pollinators play in our environment. The aim was to cultivate a sense of responsibility for their pollinator’s protection and habitat.

4-H conducted an interactive session with youths that identified foods dependent on pollinators and exploring the different types of pollinators. Students learned about bee communication through dance, demonstrated how bees navigate communities, and discovered that bees prefer pollinating one crop at a time. Using farm maps, paths for bristle bee bots were created to simulate the collection of pollen and its return to the hive. These hands-on activities provided valuable experience, teaching the students about the importance of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

The session delved into the challenges faced by pollinators, including habitat loss. By understanding these issues, the students became aware of the potential loss of certain foods without pollinators and emerged as advocates for pollinator conservation.

As a result, the students not only gained a newfound appreciation for pollinators but also developed a heightened environmental consciousness, with some overcoming fears of bees in the process.

The commitment of 4-H in Josephine County extends to expanding the program's reach to more youths and communities. There is a vision for a deeper connection with other schools, where educational sessions continue, and active engagement in creating biodiverse habitats within school gardens becomes a reality. The goal is to foster a generation that not only understands the vital role of pollinators but actively participates in their conservation.

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