Whether it’s maintaining campus greenery or providing habitats, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has made it apparent how important nature is to campus. This has been proven with the Bee Campus USA Designation.
The Bee Campus USA Program recognizes colleges for their efforts in sustaining pollinators, as well as increasing the amount of native plants, providing nest sites and reducing pesticides. UL Lafayette is the second college in the state of Louisiana to receive this designation.
Bee Campus USA follows the main goal of protecting native pollinators on college campuses. In this process, other benefits are reaped from the lush environment of nesting sites and native plants free of pesticides. In order to receive this designation, UL Lafayette had to form a Bee Campus USA committee.
The Bee Campus USA committee is an interdisciplinary group of faculty, staff, undergrad students and grad students on UL Lafayette’s campus. Formed in spring of 2022, this committee puts in effort to maintain planting beds, protect native pollinators and provide hands-on learning for UL Lafayette students.
Projects from this group include making “bee hotels” and bee watering stations around campus. Since solitary bees are native to Louisiana, they usually nest in small holes inside trees or plants rather than hives. So these bee hotels provide a habitat for this native species.
The committee has also handed out over a thousand coreopsis seeds, which is a native flower of Louisiana. Along with planting this flower, the committee also watches over planting beds on campus, and forms urban prairies to keep campus green.
Students involved in Bee Campus USA have a chance for service learning opportunities such as planting and weeding on campus, as well as learning facts about native plants and habitats.
Assistant Director of Sustainability Blair Begnaud elaborated on the benefits of the Bee Campus USA committee.
“Some of the benefits are beautification of campus, education for students, labs and classes, improved maintenance on planting beds, and new bioswales and rain gardens which help capture water so we don’t flood as much,” Begnaud said. “Some other things it aids are the integrated pest management plan and the University’s storm water management plan. A lot of these native plants have good soil with root structures that help keep the soil compact, so that prevents soil erosion. It’s all these trickle effects.”
With these efforts to keep campus a safe environment for native pollinators, it also serves as a method to protect other pollinators from endangerment, such as butterflies, moths and the non-native honeybee.
In the fight against endangerment, providing a safe habitat and green environment on campus is proving to be beneficial to both Louisiana’s pollinators and UL Lafayette’s students.
For more information on Bee Campus USA and their goals, visit their website.