A collaboration between Bee Squad, Urban Ventures, Urban Roots, Monarch Joint Venture, the University of Minnesota Bell Museum of Natural History, Pollinate Minnesota, and the Mississippi River Green Team, the Pollinator Ambassadors program began in 2016 with funding from the UMN Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute. The goal of the Pollinator Ambassadors program is to provide hands-on training to youth about pollinators in order for them to provide outreach to the public. In 2016, the program trained 6 youth from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. These participants learned about honey bees, participated in bumble bee surveys, and learned about pollination in food systems. Two of the participants were hired by the Bee Squad in 2017 to help with outreach. In 2017, the Bee Squad received funding from Target Corporate to continue Pollinator Ambassador programming and we expanded the number of youth participants to 20 by connecting with the Mississippi River Green Team. These youth participants were trained in beneficial insects, pollinators, bumble bee surveys, and were able to connect to a Bee Arts project where they experienced the intersection of art and bee pollinators.
In 2019, we trained 45 youth participants including students in Rochester, MN. We partnered with instructors from Monarch Joint Venture and Pollinate Minnesota to broaden our content. To support educators throughout the state of Minnesota, we created pollinator outreach toolkits. In 2021, we sent 200 kits to pollinator educators across Minnesota. Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) and trained an additional 15 youth.
Check out the video that Pollinator Ambassadors made with Independent Film Project MN about their experience learning about pollinators.
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