2018 USFS BioBlitz and Pollinator/Community Garden Grantees

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), with major funding support from US Forest Service (USFS), has awarded over $28,000 in mini-grants to facilitate BioBlitz and Pollinator/Community Garden activities. Awarded grantees will utilize grant funds to carry out educational and conservation activities on local Forest Service lands, whether these be urban forests or other nature-based spaces. Grant-funded activities will facilitate long-term sustainability of our nation’s forests and grasslands while connecting diverse audiences, primarily youth and families from Latino/Hispanic communities, to the green spaces in their own backyards. While activities do not have to occur on USFS property, they had to be tied to USFS interests as evidenced by a letter from a federal, state, or local Forest Service agency.

BioBlitz mini-grants of up to $1,000 were awarded to the following grantees:

  • Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation (Reno, NV) will host an AmeriCorps National Day of Service Mini BioBlitz at Davis Creek Regional Park to record biodiversity, engage community members in environmental education, and to promote healthy lifestyles and environmental stewardship. Local experts, including the Nevada State Entomologist, will teach participants about the importance of biodiversity on environmental health.
  • San Diego Park Foundation (San Diego, CA) will host River Days, a series which will celebrate the San Diego River and engage the surrounding community through service projects, environmental education, and recreational opportunities. One of the many events that SDRPF will host during the upcoming 15th annual River Days is an iNaturalist Blitz. SDRPF will train hike leaders to guide citizen scientists as they collect crucial data on the River’s health at three different locations.
  • Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association (Pisgah Forest, NC) will host the Pink Beds BioBlitz which will include demonstrations, environmental education-related activities, and guided BioBlitz walks. US Forest Service scientists will demonstrate surveying techniques (i.e. fish shocking) and the North Carolina Arboretum's ecoEXPLORE will lead an activity introducing children iNaturalist as a citizen science tool. During the main BioBlitz portion of the event, El Centro -- a non-profit organization who coordinates family-friendly programming for the Latino community -- will lead a pond exploration and salamander survey.
  • Canyonlands Field Institute (Moab, UT) will engage local Latino families and youth on a citizen science project at the nearby Manti-La Sal National Forest, in partnership with the US Forest Service Moab Ranger District and the Moab Valley Multicultural Center. A USFS wildlife biologist will train participants on how to identify native and non-native pollinators and will then lead a nature walk on designated USFS trails.
  • Kentucky Waterways Alliance (Campton, KY) will hold a "Back-to-School BioBlitz" in August 2018 for students in the Kentucky watershed. Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Daniel Boone National Forest, and Morehead State University have partnered to bring this educational opportunity to local students. 40-50 students will rotate between BioBlitz activities and stations about different topics like the fishes, aquatic insects, plants, and birds native to the Red River Gorge of the Daniel Boone National Forest.
  • Arizona Trail Association (Phoenix, AZ) will transport 60 middle school students from two schools in Flagstaff, Arizona to Marshall Lake for a BioBlitz as part of the Arizona Trail Association’s Seeds of Stewardship program. The BioBlitz will focus on aquatic invertebrates as well as the other plants and animals at Marshall Lake, a riparian marsh on USFS-managed land.
  • Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (Grasonville, MD) will pilot a BioBlitz experience for 80 students from the Queen Anne’s County Public School System. Participants will explore three diverse ecosystems on the property – forest, meadow, and bay. At each site, participants will photograph fauna and flora with Smart devices. Master Naturalists will guide students and volunteers in identifying species and help them to upload photographs to iNaturalist.
  • Delaware Highlands Conservancy (Equlnunk, PA) will host the Upper Delaware BioBlitz during which biologists and volunteers will attempt to collect, identify, and catalogue every visible specimen on the property. This event will be open to the public and visitors will have an opportunity to see the collected specimens, examine them with microscopes, and talk to the experts. Visitors will have the opportunity to see the diversity of local life in one place and then experience it in context through walks and mini-forays on site. Specific workshops for children and their families will include: grass and tree identification, fish tagging, bird identification, night bat call identification, forest management, nature drawing and photography, and crafts based on natural subjects.
  • Friends of Van Cortland Park (Bronx, NY)  will administer BioBlitz surveys that will collect valuable data that can be used by NYC Park managers. Friends of Van Cortlandt Park will also host Biodiversity workshops which will provide opportunity for more in-depth discussion and exploration of park biology and its connection to human psychology, sociology and physical health.

Pollinator/Community Garden mini-grants of up to $3,000 were awarded to the following grantees:

  • Friends of Van Cortlandt Park (Reno, NV) will hold a series of pollinator events at Van Cortlandt Park. Events will educate children and families about the diversity of pollinators and their importance to the health of the park. Activities will also reinvigorate the existing pollinator areas of the FVCP garden.
  • Freshkills Park Alliance (New York, NY) will recruit community members to assist with the creation of pollinator and vegetable gardens at the Freshkills Park Studio. Freshkills Park Alliance will collaborate with the Children’s Aid Goodhue Center, an organization that engages underserved Latinx families and youth. The gardens and adjacent gallery will also host workshops on topics in human and ecosystem health.
  • LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District (LaPorte, IN) will continue to coordinate the restoration of Hansen Park in partnership with the Michigan City Wolves Environmental Restoration Team, a group of 30 diverse high school students. Students will be installing a native, pollinator-friendly planting in a large ditch that accepts run-off from the road along the park.
  • Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons (Sioux Falls, SD) will hold a community planting day during which participants will create an orchard by building a fence and planting trees and various perennial pollinators. Girl Scout Troop #40080 will take the lead in caring for the newly established trees and plants for the first year which will include watering, weeding, and other tasks with the support of subject matter experts on the project team. This project is part of their Girl Scout Leadership Experience in which girls research, plan, and execute a community service project they feel passionate about.
  • Corazon Latino Inc. (Washington, DC) will partner with Mundo Verde Charter School’s (MVCS) community engagement program to install pollinator habitat, including fruit tree, native plant and an edible garden, on MVCS grounds. MVCS is the only DC school focusing on Education for Sustainability through a Spanish immersion model.
  • Greater Valley YMCA (Allentown, PA) will establish a new Pollinator Garden on the Y property, designed to act as an “outdoor classroom” for community members of all ages. Preschool students will create stepping stones for the outdoor space, while school-age students will design hummingbird feeders for the garden. Older children will create plant markers for the different plant species in both English and Spanish. Senior members will also participate in the outdoor classroom activities.
  • The Greening Youth Foundation (Atlanta, GA) will implement Pollinator Pals, a program that will engage local youth and their parents with Greening Youth Foundation's 3.5-acre urban farm and classroom facilities. The program includes a Pollination Process Workshop which will teach how wind, humans, and organisms like birds and bees transport pollen to different plants.
  • Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (Elkins, WV) will offer programming at their one-acre pollinator and edible garden. The garden features larval host plants and nectar sources that attract pollinators. The edible component of the garden is maintained by community volunteers and includes various raised beds and a trellis that provide apples, pears, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, and grapes. This produce will be collected during environmental education programs as part of a campaign to increase the connection between healthy foods and healthy bodies.