Jamestown High School pollinator plot intended to boost bee population

Pheasants Forever is spearheading an effort for a gold standard pollinator plot at Jamestown High School.

JSSP Generic Sun

The pollinator plot in the works near Jamestown High School is "kind of the gold standard" for this type of project, according to Austin Lang, precision ag and conservation specialist for Pheasants Forever.

"We have some grasses and a lot of different wildflowers," he said. "This will attract the beneficial insects and attract birds because they need those insects. In all, it will attract insects, birds and wildlife."

Lang made a presentation to the students at Jamestown High School on May 21.

Adam Gehlhar, principal of Jamestown High School, said the idea came from the students and faculty of the school's agriculture programs.


"Initially, the ag program farmed that land," he said. "The teacher and students helped identify the best use for a wet area of the land as a pollinator plot."

Lang said the plot will be used to teach the same lesson to students and adults not involved with agriculture.

"Part of trying to educate students and others on the importance of pollinators and flowers," he said.

Lang said bees, both native and commercial, are the most important pollinators in the world. Other pollinators include birds, butterflies, moths beetles and even small mammals. The activity of the pollinator encourages the production of fruit and seeds by plants and is responsible for about one-third of the food consumed in the world at this time.

Lang quoted from a study by the United Soybean Board that evidence showed increased yields in soybean fields that were visited by bees while the plants are blooming.

Pollinator insects are also consumed by young birds and encourage the growth of game birds in the wild, Lang said.

Lang said the world population of pollinators is declining due to mites and diseases affecting honey bees, the loss of habitat to agriculture and urban growth and insecticide use.

Limited use of insecticides and managing farm fields to retain edges of wildflowers and other plants friendly to pollinators are part of the answer.


Including pollinator-friendly plants such as daisies, marigolds and sunflowers in garden and home landscapes can help boost bee populations in cities, Lang said.

Farms can include flowering plants such as sunflowers, clovers and beans in the crop rotation. These fields along field borders of other crops and wet areas can be ideal habitat for pollinating insects.

The pollinator plot is northeast of the Jamestown High School building in an area sometimes referred to as "Blue Jay Acres." It is a project of Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund, the James Valley Pheasants Forever Chapter, Stutsman Soil Conservation District, Farmers Union Agronomy and the students and administration at Jamestown High School, Lang said.

Gehlhar said the original farm plot that includes the pollinator plot was about 20 acres. The area lost about five acres for the planned turf football field at Jamestown High School.

"One of the things that made it possible is the ag students worked on it," he said. "They learned skills like calibrating seeders working on this project."

The purpose of the plot goes beyond increasing the number of bees in the area.

"It is for habitat, recreation and conservation," Lang said.

The plot is being developed as a natural space for walkers and joggers, a place for wildlife and bird viewing and an outdoor classroom for the high school and community education.


"The area may see some development of softball fields and different things in the future," Lang said, "but putting the pollinator habitat in now makes it a nice area for walking trails."

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