Thousands get up close and personal with pollinators

The UI Pollinatarium, the discovery/science center dedicated to raising pollinator awareness, is the ultimate in repurposing; the building at the south end of the UI Arboretum was originally constructed as a pesticide storage shed, spent over a decade as Gene Robinson’s Bee Research Facility, and in 2009 was converted into a facility for science outreach (thereby pretty much covering the tripartite mission of the land grant university at one address). Ably managed by UIUC alumna Lesley Deem, in both 2013 and 2014 the Polli hosted over 2500 visitors. Among them were students ranging from preschoolers to undergraduates to Osher Lifelong Learners, community groups, beekeepers, agritourists and drop-in campus visitors. We’re now part of the Museum at the Crossroads consortium spanning Champaign County and we’ve hosted a weekly summer lecture series along with meetings, including the 2013 Central Eastern Illinois Beekeepers Association and the Illinois State Beekeepers Association. Adjacent to the Polli is a reconstructed prairie where visitors can get “up close and personal” with pollinators in their natural habitat, along with various and sundry pollinator-friendly plantings, including, in 2013, a “salsa garden” planted and maintained by local children. It’s also the official UIUC home of National Pollinator Week in June as well as National Moth Week in July. In 2014, we had visitors from 18 different states and three other countries (Brazil, Germany, and Japan).

In addition to the thousands of hours spent educating the public at the Pollinatarium, the Pollinatarium Director, Lesley Deem, also spent hundreds of hours doing outreach outside the Pollinatarium by traveling to schools and public meetings all over the state raising pollinator awareness. The Department of Entomology can’t thank Lesley enough for her unwavering dedication and hard work. We would also like to thank the many volunteers who docent and who help maintain and continue to improve the Pollinatarium and its grounds: Entomology Graduate Students (EGSA), UIUC undergraduate students, Master Naturalists, and Master Gardeners (just to name a few). Without you, we would not be able to maintain the level of excellence the public has come to expect when visiting the Pollinatarium. So…Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Comments are closed.