A youth participant takes photos of plants using a tablet during City of Harrisonburg's BioBlitz. Photo courtesy of City of Harrisonburg, Virginia.
This September, NRPA hosted its fourth annual Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz. This year, we had many agencies join us again, while welcoming new agencies who hosted a BioBlitz for the first time. Regardless of their experience level, agencies across the country encouraged their communities to explore parks and discover what plants and pollinators live there.
Participating in a BioBlitz not only allows people to enjoy a connection with nature and build awareness for the crucial role pollinators play in our communities, but the information gathered also provides specific data on the species located in our parks. This data can help park and recreation professionals manage those spaces for biological diversity, as well as build ecological resilience.
This year, over 170 park and recreation professionals, natural resource managers, museums, zoos, and community advocates downloaded information on how to host a BioBlitz. Events were organized from coast to coast, with 24 states represented from Washington to Florida, and a total of 77 park and recreation agencies and like-minded organizations participating. These groups recorded nearly 34,000 observations, documenting nearly 5,000 different species of both pollinators and pollinator-supporting plants. This data is important for our parks to have but what is equally important is the community engagement. Over 4,000 people participated in the national BioBlitz and nearly 2,000 experts helped identify findings using iNaturalist. Visit our iNaturalist project page to see what species were found as well as all our participating agencies and organizations.
Park and recreation professionals who participated found creative ways to partner with local groups and engage the communities they serve. For example:
- One agency partnered with a local natural history museum to teach about the importance of pollinators
- One group used their BioBlitz as a community engagement event tied to their park planning process.
- One agency used the BioBlitz to connect their community to other educational opportunities they provide
- One agency leveraged the program to host trainings for iNaturalist and build capacity for habitat monitoring programs.
Park and recreation professionals never cease to amaze us with the innovative ways they integrate the BioBlitz into their other programs. We look forward to collecting and sharing stories from all the creative ways agencies participated this year!
Those that hosted a BioBlitz event in September also had the chance to win prizes to support their pollinator habitats or programs. Agencies could win one of three $1,000 prizes or one of three ScottsMiracle-Gro prize packs.
This year our grand prize winners were:
- Olivette Parks and Recreation, Missouri
- The City of Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, Ohio
- The City of Harrisonburg, Virginia
The three agencies who won the ScottsMiracle-Gro prize packs were:
- City of South Portland Parks Department, Maine
- The City of Santa Clara, Parks & Recreation Department, California
- Park District of Highland Park, Illinois
Thank you to everyone who participated and hosted events in their communities this year. NRPA will be collecting stories, images and feedback from everyone who signed up for our 2022 BioBlitz, so please send us your best stuff — we would love to share your stories! We hope to see even more of you join us in a future Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz.
Note: The Parks for Pollinators campaign, hosted through a partnership between the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and The ScottsMiracle-Gro Foundation, aims to raise public awareness of the pollinator crisis and encourage local action through public parks and recreation. NRPA and The ScottsMiracle-Gro Foundation believe parks play a key role in protecting and preserving pollinators and their habitats. Together, as part of ScottsMiracle-Gro’s GroMoreGood initiative, they are working to educate more children, families and communities about the importance of pollinators and what people can do to help.
Michele White, CAE, IOM, (she/her) is an NRPA senior program manager.