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'The People's Garden' at USDA Kicks Off National Pollinator Week with Leading Experts at Panel Discussion on "Pollinators in Decline"
Week Long Celebration Includes Festival in The People's Garden and Beehive
WASHINGTON, June 21, 2010 -Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 'The People's Garden' is hosting a National Pollinator Kick Off event, Pollinators in Decline, on Monday, June 21. Today marks the fourth annual National Pollinator Week from June 21-27, 2010.
"Pollinators are needed for the reproduction of 90% of flowering plants and one third of human food crops, with each of us depending on bees, butterflies, bugs and other creatures to help provide us with the wide range of foods we eat," said Vilsack.
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Dave White moderated the hour long panel discussion which was held at USDA's Whitten Building. Five leading experts and scientists talked about the decline of pollinator populations and what this means for the world's food supply. They also described the work that is being done to promote the health of pollinators and what actions the general public can take in support of pollinators. The panel members included:
Sam Droege has spent most of his career at the U.S. Geological Survey's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Currently he is developing an inventory and monitoring program for native bees, online identification guides for North American bees at www.discoverlife.org and with Jessica Zelt reviving the North American Bird Phenology Program.
Laurie Davies Adams is the Executive Director of the Pollinator Partnership and has over thirty years experience in management and communications. As Executive Director of the Pollinator Partnership, she has overseen the initial organization and the development of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), the 120 +member collaboration of stakeholders from Mexico, Cannonade and the United States that work for a variety of fields including science, the environment, agriculture and private industry. NAPPC's successes under Ms. Adams include the National Academy of Sciences NRC Study on the Status of the Pollinators of North America, the US Postal Service's "Pollination" stamp series and the U.S Senate and USDA proclamations creating National Pollinator Week.
Nathan Erwin is exhibition manager for Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution at the National Museum of Natural History. He also manages the museum's award-winning O. Orkin Insect Zoo, for which he oversees all staff and educational/outreach programs. Other highlights from Erwin's career include working on a wide variety of Smithsonian insect-related products, including models and children's books; acting as a consultant on the script of the IMAX 3-D movie "BUGS!"; appearing on National Geographic Channel, National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," "The Late Show with David Letterman," and other local and national television programs to which he was accompanied by live residents of the Insect Zoo; and spending many hours photographing insects and banding birds.
Dr. Jeff S. Pettis is the research leader of the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. Dr. Pettis leads a team effort to improve colony health by limiting the impact of pests and diseases on honey bee colonies. His research areas include; integrated pest management techniques to reduce the impacts of parasitic mites and disease, effects of pesticides and pathogens on queen health and longevity, host-parasite relationships and bee behavior. Additionally, he serves as the lead coordinator for a new 5-year ARS area wide program to improve colony health.
Mace Vaughan is the Pollinator Program Director for The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Mace has led the Xerces Society's Pollinator Conservation program since 2003. In this capacity, he supervises a team of four staff who work across the United States to present short courses and workshops on habitat restoration and management for pollinators. Mace develops and presents educational materials to farmers, conservationists, land managers and policy makers as well as collaborates extensively with scientists who research the role and habitat needs of crop-pollinating native bees. He has written numerous articles on the conservation of bees, butterflies, aquatic invertebrates and insects. He also is co-author of the Pollinator Conservation Handbook and lead author of Farming for Bees: Guidelines for Providing Native Bee Habitat on Farms.
Donald Brady is the Director of the Environmental Fate and Effects Division of the Environmental Protection Agency. This division oversees the labeling of pesticides to protect non-target insect species.
Celebrations continued with exhibits outside in 'The People's Garden' in order to raise public awareness about pollinators as well as promote conservation, protection and restoration of their habitats. Exhibitors included the USDA Pollinator Protection Committee, which consists of USDA's Agricultural Research Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Forest Service, National Institute for Food and Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service. Other exhibitors included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pollinator LIVE, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, O. Orkin Insect Zoo at the Smithsonian Institution, United States Botanic Garden, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Geological Survey. Pollinator-related information was provided to help explain the variety of pollinator-related endeavors in which USDA agencies and the other Federal partners are involved.
This week, USDA also is celebrating its newest residents, bees! The People's Garden at USDA headquarters added a beehive in The People's Garden Apiary which is located on the roof of USDA's Whitten Building along the National Mall in Washington, D.C. USDA's newest residents, six pounds (approximately 20,000) of bees and a queen were placed in their new home on April 21, 2010. These bees are facilitating pollination of 'The People's Garden' as well as the surrounding areas. The hive's location was chosen so the eastern exposure of sunlight would get the bees moving in the morning. Directly to the west of the hive is a utility room which provides protection from the prevailing winds and bad weather along with afternoon shade to avoid the late day heat. The hive is checked every 10 days and USDA's volunteers supply fresh water every other day. These practices will ensure the health of the colony by checking for fresh eggs as well as any visual parasite or disease issue.
Last year, 'The People's Garden' was unveiled and opened to the public as a living exhibit of what USDA does every day. It incorporates sustainable practices, it is a collaborative effort and it benefits the community.
'The People's Garden' initiative is an effort by USDA which challenges its employees to establish gardens at USDA facilities worldwide or help communities create gardens. A 'People's Garden' can vary in size and type, but all have a common purpose - to help the community they are within and the environment.
A 'People's Garden' must include the following three components:
1. Benefit your community: Gardens benefit communities in many different ways. They can create spaces for leisure or recreation that the public can use, provide a harvest to a local food bank or shelter, be a wildlife friendly landscape or be a rain garden to absorb storm water run-off and protect the soil from erosion.
2. Be collaborative: The garden must be a collaborative effort between other volunteers, neighbors or organizations within your community. Local partnerships could carry out the mission of a People's Garden.
3. Incorporate sustainable practices: the garden should include gardening practices that nurture, maintain and protect the environment such as:
· Capturing rainwater in rain barrels
· Composting and mulching
· Planting native species
· Encouraging beneficial insects that feed on destructive pests
The Pollinators in Decline panel session was taped to create a one hour webinar which will be posted on 'The People's Garden' Web site during the week of June 28. More information about 'The People's Garden' initiative can be found at www.usda.gov/peoplesgarden or follow the initiative for real-time updates at twitter.com/peoplesgarden. Information also is available on the USDA Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USDA and photos are available at www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov. Blogs from the gardeners involved in these "People's Gardens" are featured each Friday at www.usda.gov/blog/usda.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).