Bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, beetles -- pollinators are vital to maintain a healthy ecosystem and are essential for the reproduction of many plants. Insects and birds are responsible for pollinating one-third of the food we eat. Without pollinators, agriculture and food production would be significantly different.

In support of National Pollinator Week, June 17-23, the Madison County Pollinator Working Group is hosting a Pollinator Appreciation Day program at the Berea College Forestry Outreach Center, 2047 Big Hill Rd. Berea on Thursday, June 20 from 6 to 8 p.m..

"Our Pollinator Appreciation Day program will recognize the schools in Madison County who are participants in the School Pollinator Project along with business partners, such as Columbia Gas, involved with the project. There are many schools and organizations doing good work and we want them to be acknowledged", said Jim Embry, Sustainable Communities Network and Working Group facilitator, in a release.

During the program, the Working Group will read Proclamations by County Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor and Governor Matt Bevin. There will be tours of the forestry outreach center, free pollinator-beneficial plants and seeds, pollinator information material, short films and refreshments. The event is free and open to the public.

The School Pollinator Project was funded largely by the North American Association for Environmental Education through its EPA sponsored ee360 Fellowship. Schools in Madison, Fayette and Letcher counties were given soil, plants, seeds, books and material for raised beds along with two teacher workshops. Columbia Gas of KY, Berea College and East Kentucky Power Coop were significant business partners in the school project. Madison Central, Madison Middle, Farristown and White Hall were a few of the schools participating. (

Bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, beetles and dozens of other insects are essential for plant reproduction and for many of our food crops. The economic impact of insect pollination worldwide is estimated at $217 billion. However, pollinators are in severe decline because of habitat loss and pesticide use.

"Pollinators are essential for agriculture and for the food we eat. These critters, small and often unnoticed, are essential for many fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, beans, coffee and chocolate. "We can do our part to support pollinators by creating pollinator-friendly gardens/yards and protecting wildlife habitat in our bee-friendly communities." Embry said in the release.

The Madison County Pollinator Habitat Working Group formed in 2017 and was inspired by the statewide Kentucky Pollinator Stakeholder Group led by, State Apiarist, Dr. Tammy Potter. The Working Group now includes such groups as Columbia Gas of KY, EKU, Berea College, East KY Power Coop, Sustainable Berea, Madison County Conservation District, Madison County Public Library, Gallery on Main, Sustainable Communities Network, Blue Grass Army Depot, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and the Kentucky Transportation Department.

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