University

Douglas Golick, a University of Nebraska entomologist, carefully handles a monarch butterfly as he explains the reasons for tagging the beautiful insects to area fifth-graders.

YORK—York students are learning about the local pollinator population thanks to Corn Country Pheasants Forever and their partnerships with other conservation experts.

Last spring fourth-grade students from all of York’s public and private schools learned about the importance of pollinators in our lives. A bee keeper, entomologist, plant specialist and habitat specialist led lessons to help the students understand the science of pollinators.

The students, led by experts on pollinators, then headed to York’s wellfield east of town to scatter native plant seeds and place flower plugs across the 2-acre plot.

Fast-forward a year later: the now-fifth-graders returned to the wellfield to check the plot’s progress. The children marveled at how quickly their plants had grown. Perhaps the highlight was trying to net monarch butterflies for tagging. Dr. Douglas Golick, a University of Nebraska entomologist, explained the tagging process, and the reasons behind tagging butterflies.

Tagging the monarchs tracks the origins of monarchs that reach Mexico, where they spend their winters. It also helps document when and how fast their migration progresses, and indicates migration mortality and geographic distribution of the insects.

Uniquely-marked tags with pressure-sensitive adhesive are attached to the butterfly’s wing. These tags do not affect flight or otherwise harm the insect. Each tag is printed with identification numbers and contact information for the tagging organization. “Citizen-scientists” can contact the organization to submit observations about the monarch they found.

York’s pollinator project is funded by Corn Country Pheasants Forever chapter, in tandem with York schools, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the City of York. In addition to Golick, Pheasants Forever Special Initiatives Coordinator Anna Swerczeck, Corn Country Pheasants Forever Habitat Chairman Rodger Pracheil, and Corn Country Pheasants Forever member Peggy Menze offered their expertise.

Much of the funding for endeavors like the pollinator project comes from events like the Corn Country Pheasants Forever annual banquet. The upcoming event, slated for October 12, marks the banquet’s 27th year.

Find out more about pollinators at https://pollinatorplot.unl.edu/pollinators. Information about Pheasants Forever can be found on their website: http://nebraskapf.com/

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