NPC Receives Pollinator Garden Grant

Alexandra Barnard headshotNational Park College (NPC) received a $500 grant from the Arkansas Environmental Education Association (AEEA) to purchase plants and supplies for the College’s pollinator garden outside of the Lab Sciences building.

Associate professor of Biology Alexandra Barnard prepared the grant request as part of AEEA's annual mini grant program which supports environmental and outdoor education projects by classroom teachers and nonformal educators and organizations in Arkansas.

Traci Hudson, vice president of AEEA, said the program aims to foster environmental awareness and stewardship among students and the community.

"We focus on environmental education within the state, and Alex won one of our mini grants," Hudson said. "Each mini grant is funded for an environmental program or something that is outreach for students."

Hudson added she was excited the AEEA is supporting Barnard's project, which involves creating a habitat for native pollinators such as butterflies, moths and beetles.

"It is great. I'm an educator myself. Anytime we can do outreach and educate students about the environment and things that go on in it, it's awesome because depending on the student's background they might not have gotten that education. They may look at the environment as a concrete jungle and it is very much not," said Hudson.

Barnard said she was excited to receive the grant and to involve her students in the pollinator garden project.

"This is really exciting. My students for my Ecology class in the fall are also really excited because the three of us kind of planned what's already there, and they're really excited to have been involved from the start and to see it grow," Barnard said.

Barnard said the pollinator garden will educate the public about the importance of native plants and insects for the ecosystem.

"I have learned a lot recently just about the importance of native plants, being able to support native insects and then provide food for birds. And so, a lot of ornamental plants that we have come from other continents. So, they don't actually provide food for the animals that we have here. We’ve disrupted the whole food web. So, going back to what Traci was saying about educating people about the environment, I hope that having this garden there, we're going to have some signage and stuff that helps explain why native plants are important. Why are butterflies, moths, and beetles important to the functioning of our local systems," explained Barnard.

Barnard said she expects the garden to produce in the next couple of months.