Bee Campus USA
Southwestern University is recognized as a Bee Campus USA college after meeting the requirements outlined by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to be a certified pollinator-friendly campus.
Bee Campus USA is an initiative of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation that provides recognition for universities in the U.S. that are committed to preserving local biodiversity through protecting native pollinator habitats, limiting the use of synthetic pesticides, and engaging in public awareness initiatives. Southwestern University is the 1st campus of our peer institutions, 7th campus in the state of Texas, and 87th campus in the nation to have attained Bee Campus USA certification.
Southwestern University’s Sustainability Committee has taken oversight over Bee Campus USA, to ensure that Southwestern continues to follow its guidelines and apply for renewal each year.
Bee Campus USA requires all certified campuses to have their least-toxic Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan and Native Plant List with regional sources publicly available. Southwestern University’s IPM and Native Plant List are available below.
Campuses are required to host at least one event annually to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators and to acknowledge the institution’s certification as a Bee Campus USA institution. Past and future events are described below:
Native Plants Webinar, 10/27/2020 - As part of the Office of Sustainability’s fall Sustainability Webinar Series, the Grounds Ambassadors hosted a Native Plants Webinar to introduce the campus community to both iconic and lesser-known plant species in Central Texas.
Racing Extinction Virtual Screening, 4/22/2020 - For Earth Day, Southwestern University hosted a virtual screening of “Racing Extinction,” a 2015 documentary about the ongoing Anthropogenic mass extinction of species.
Bat Appreciation Webinar, 4/17/2020 - To celebrate Bat Appreciation Day and Southwestern University’s new bat houses, the Office of Sustainability hosted a Bat Appreciation Webinar with co-founders of Austin Bat Refuge, Dianna Odegard & Lee Mackenzie, and bat conservationist/filmmaker, Emily Stanford, to talk about bat conservation and dispel negative myths about bats.
Sustainability Fun on the Mall, 10/21/2019 - As part of Campus Sustainability Week, the Bee Campus USA capstone group shared a booth with the Garden Club and handed out pollinator plant seeds with informational sheets to those who stopped by.
Garden Day, 10/20/2019 - Hosted by the Garden Club, this workday in the Garden was focused on planting pollinator-friendly, drought-resistant plants in one of the main beds. Lance Roberson gave a talk on the importance of pollinators to our ecosystems, as well as the importance of pollinator plant species for them.
Bee Campus USA requires the annual sponsoring and tracking of student service-learning projects by students, faculty, and/or staff to enhance pollinator habitats on- and off-campus. These projects are described below:
Oak Tree Planting, 11/6/2020 - For Texas Arbor Day, Facilities Management led a tree planting event. A 22-year old native Oak tree was planted in its forever home in front of the campus’ library. Native oak trees support pollinators by providing winter shelter and habitat.
Wildflower Planting, 10/16/2020 - During Campus Sustainability Week in the fall, the Grounds Ambassadors led a wildflower planting event in the triangular space between the Robertson center and the Chapel. Volunteers helped plant bluebonnet, red poppy, and rudbeckia seeds.
Solitary Bee Houses, Fall 2020 - For her Grounds Ambassador project, student Ceanna Cooksey bought, built, and installed on campus 4 houses meant for native mason bees. These houses will facilitate small colonies of mason bees and other native wood-nesting native insects.
From Farm to Table FYS, Fall 2020 - This course involves a Community-Engaged Learning Project, which varies by year; in Fall 2020, on-campus students helped plant native and adapted flowers on campus and remote students prepared an educational pollinator guide.
Wildflower Experiment, Spring 2020 - Students in Dr. Burks’ Ecology class conducted a wildflower experiment within the triangular space between the Robertson center and the Chapel. Students seeded eight plots marked off by string and stakes to study how seeding amount and timing affected community diversity.
Garden Work Days, Spring 2020 - The Garden Club hosted various workdays in the campus community garden where volunteers helped plant pollinator-friendly crops, learned organic gardening and water conservation techniques, and released beneficial insects such as ladybugs and praying mantises as a pollinator-friendly form of pest management.
From Farm to Table FYS, Fall 2019 - This course involves a Community-Engaged Learning Project, which varies by year; in Fall 2019, two groups worked in the SU Community Garden, primarily by weeding and removing other invasive plants so that natural pollinator species could move in.
Creation of Protected Native Habitat, Fall 2019 - As part of their capstone project, the Environmental Studies Bee Campus USA capstone group, with permission from Facilities, designated an area east of the athletic fields and bordering the walking trail as a “Protected Native Habitat.” The area has not been mowed or otherwise maintained by Facilities for decades, and now has an official designation by SU so that it remains protected.
Bee Campus USA requires all certified campuses to offer courses or continuing education opportunities that incorporate pollinator conservation. The following for-credit courses have included lessons about the importance of pollinators:
BIO50-434 Ecology - This class explores the interactions of organisms with their biotic and abiotic environment. In particular, the course looks at the influence of nutrients, climate, competition, predation, and symbiotic relationships on individuals, populations, and communities.
ENV49-284 Sustainable Food And Agriculture - This course offers an interdisciplinary perspective on the environmental, economic, and cultural relationship between producers and consumers in the global food network.
BIO50-194 Science Of Chocolate - This course explores the biology and chemistry of Theobroma cacao, the plant from which people make chocolate. Topics include pollination ecology, genetics, antioxidants and health, and climate change.
UST05-014-20 From Farm to Table: How Food Impacts Our Planet - This seminar explores the complicated journey of our food from farm to table. Topics include modern agriculture, food production issues, the ecological footprint and health effects of various foods, and the links between food choices, climate change, and planetary health.
Additionally, the campus garden is a place for students, faculty, and staff to learn about natural gardening practices. Frequent garden workdays and workshops provide the opportunity for SU community members to learn about the importance of pollinators.
Campuses are required to post signage regarding pollinators to educate the campus and broader community about pollinator-friendly landscaping principles. The locations of the SU’s Bee Campus USA signage are below.
The certification of Southwestern University as a Bee Campus USA institution was accomplished through a Fall 2019 Environmental Studies capstone project, including Samantha Buehler, Karonech Chreng, Katey Ewton, Abbigail Lloyd, and Spencer Kleypas, as well as with support from Facilities Management, the Sustainability Committee, and their advisor, Dr. Joshua Long.