Tarrant County College Southeast has been named the 44th educational institution in the nation to be certified as an affiliate of the Bee Campus USA program, designed to marshal the strengths of educational campuses for the benefit of pollinators.
“Imperiled pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of 90 percent of the world’s wild plant and tree species. Tarrant County College Southeast is a stellar example of the influence educational institutions can have on their students and the broader community,” said Bee Campus USA Director Phyllis Stiles. “Their talented faculty, staff and students offer an invaluable resource in the area.”
Pollinators are an essential link in agriculture with bee-pollinated commodities accounting for as much $20 billion in annual U.S. agricultural production and $217 billion worldwide, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Home to two ponds, a creek and a heavily wooded area, TCC Southeast is located on 166 acres in the southeastern section of Arlington. The campus is part of a natural Blackland Prairie, a critical part of the ecosystem necessary to maintain a striving food system. As part of its overall sustainability initiative, Southeast’s Sustainability Committee decided that their specific emphasis on their ecosystem would be to help bees pollinate.
“Receiving recognition for the commitment that we are making to sustainability is encouraging. I congratulate our active sustainability committee for their efforts that benefit not only our campus, but the surrounding community,” said Southeast President Bill Coppola. ”TCC Southeast is committed to providing our local pollinators with healthy habitats, native plants, including three registered monarch/pollinators waystations, a community garden and beehives. Plans are under way to develop pollinator curriculum and Community & Industry Education programs to assist with the promotion of pollinator awareness.”
More than 20 TCC Southeast volunteers consisting of faculty, staff and students serve on the committee. It sponsors several successful educational projects, including a sustainability speaker series exposing the campus community to a variety of informative sustainability topics.
TCC Southeast’s designation as a Bee Campus USA will allow the campus to incorporate their protection of the bee population into their cross-discipline learning and student experiences. These experiences are planned to extend beyond the campus by taking advantage of the nearby Blackland Prairie Park as a place for student field trips.
“Given our success as a Tree Campus USA, the bottom line is that our intention is to integrate the bee initiatives into our overall curriculum plan of making students more ecosystem aware,” said Michael Cinatl, TCC Southeast sustainability committee chairman and assistant to the campus president. The tree farm at the campus has saplings of the pecan, walnut and sycamore varieties along with honeysuckle vine, which attracts monarch butterflies.
“By emphasizing the importance of maintaining the environment for both human, vegetation, and, monarch, and bee survival, it is our goal to help students develop an appreciation of our responsibility to live in the world as informed citizens,” Cinatl said.
TCC Southeast, as does each certified campus, must reapply each year and report on accomplishments from the previous year, according to Stiles, adding that other institutions of higher education are invited to explore before completing the application process.