How Hosting a BioBlitz Improved Five Communities’ Pollinator Protection

By Michele White, CAE, IOM | Posted on September 1, 2022

BioBlitz September 1 blog 410

Pictured: St. Charles County Parks collaborated with local Girl Scout Troop 1791 to build a native garden as part of their Bronze award project. Photo courtesy of Girl Scout Troop 1791.

A young child rounds the corner of the nature path. In front of him, wildflowers grow recklessly and sway gently in the breeze. There, perched delicately on the top of a bright purple bloom, rests an unknown type of butterfly. His caregiver hands him a phone with the iNaturalist app pulled up, camera ready. The young child takes a photo and, with a few helpful tips, finds out this yellow butterfly is a Tiger Swallowtail. The child and caregiver smile and give each other a high five. They’ve just learned something new by attending the park’s Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz event and their local park and recreation agency has gained valuable data about the plants and pollinators in their park.  

For several years, parks across the country have engaged their communities in events just like this as part of NRPA’s Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz program. To participate, park and recreation agencies simply sign-up to host a BioBlitz event sometime in September. These events help to strengthen public knowledge around the importance of pollinators while also advancing on-the-ground efforts to make parks havens for biodiversity and protect native habitat.

Each year, six agencies that participate in our program are randomly selected to win a prize to support their efforts around protecting pollinators. Three agencies receive a $1,000 prize to improve pollinator protection and three agencies receive a Scotts Miracle-Gro prize pack.

These agencies are doing amazing work to advance pollinator conservation. Their efforts illustrate the extensive number of approaches you can take to engage in this work and how it can lead to long-term, sustainable actions for your agency and community. 

City of Fort Worth Parks & Recreation Department — Texas

During their Parks for Pollinator BioBlitz program, the City of Fort Worth Parks & Recreation Department set aside an area in one of their parks park for reduced mow. They monitored the park with iNaturalist, met with the neighborhood to explain the program, and also shared the opportunity with their community more broadly. Because of the success of this event, the department is using its prize money to help remove non-native and invasive grasses in the park through a prescribed burn plan. They hope to burn the site in early 2023 to prepare the soil for planting a native seed mix in Spring 2023. If a prescribed burn isn’t achievable, they will use the native seeds for public outreach and small park projects.

The City of Fort Worth Parks & Recreation Department has been able to use the Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz program as an impetus to extend reduced mow areas and create natural areas in some of their parks. They have established stream buffers in ten of their parks and are monitoring the progress of the buffers through photo points, iNaturalist, and Stream Team water quality monitoring.

Through their work to protect pollinators, they are creating long-term, sustainable actions that will lay the foundation to improve pollinator habitat and visitor experience through additional natural resource management and reduced mowing.

City of Burlington Recreation and Parks — North Carolina

The City of Burlington Recreation and Parks needs to relocate its community garden after it was removed to make space for a new pool. With the funds they received from our program, they plan to install a pollinator garden alongside the relocated community garden to provide dual benefits: draw more pollinators to help grow their community garden and provide education about the importance of pollinators to their community. 

DNR Outdoor Adventure Center — Detroit, Michigan

The DNR Outdoor Adventure Center plans to convert a section of lawn grass behind their building into a pollinator garden habitat. The garden will include pollinator-friendly native Michigan plants, educational signage, and will be incorporated into school and public programming. The land is located adjacent to the Dequindre Trail, a high-traffic public bike and walking path, which will be a great way to educate community members passing by.  

St. Charles County Parks — Missouri

St. Charles County Parks used their funds to continue adding native plants across their parks system. Notably, they collaborated with local Girl Scout Troop 1791 to build a native garden as part of their Bronze award project —and they did a fantastic job! With assistance from the horticulture team and additional funding, they designed and installed a beautiful native garden with plant labels, butterfly houses and signage. They also created a blog to document their progress. This fall, they will be making pollinator posters, hosting garden tours and holding a kids activity at this year’s Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz kickoff event!

Centre Region Parks & Recreation — Pennsylvania

Centre Region Parks & Recreation will be utilizing their prize to install a pollinator garden in a new park that is currently under construction. Strategically planning pollinator habitat in existing and new park projects provides multiple benefits through the creation of biodiversity havens, green infrastructure, educational spaces, and examples of how to steward lands to support pollinators and other species.

Many agencies who have participated in NRPA’s Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz program over the years have shared how it has positively impacted their agency’s work to support pollinators and native habitat, as well as engage their community members to ensure future stewards and adoption of pollinator-friendly practices beyond just parks. 

Sign up to host your own Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz this September and share your stories with us, too!

The Parks for Pollinators campaign, hosted through a partnership between the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation, aims to raise public awareness of the pollinator crisis and encourage local action through public parks and recreation. NRPA and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation believe parks play a key role in protecting and preserving pollinators and their habitats. Together, as part of the 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.