(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University – which collaborated with Bee City USA to develop guidelines for Bee Campus certification in 2015 – has been recertified as a Bee Campus USA for a fifth consecutive year.
Colleges and universities are awarded the honor of being a Bee Campus based on the rigorous criteria of the Bee City USA organization, an initiative of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. SOU helped create the Bee Campus award after being inspired by two early adopters of the Bee City designation – Ashland and neighboring Talent.
There are 98 Bee Campuses across the United States, including four other colleges in Oregon: Lane Community College and University of Oregon in Eugene, and Portland Community College and Portland State University in Portland.
SOU’s place as a Bee Campus is hard-earned – students and faculty maintain over a dozen pollinator-friendly gardens, two pollinator-friendly beds, herbicide-free wildlife areas and a subcommittee of SOU’s Sustainability Council dedicated to bees and other pollinators. The work is recognized not only by Bee City USA, but also from the Sierra Club, which named SOU the nation’s top pollinator-friendly college in 2018.
The university’s dedication to pollinators is a key element of its commitment to sustainability. A third of all food is produced due to insect pollination, while 90 percent of wild plants and trees require pollinators to reproduce.
It is generally believed that the decline in honey bee populations is caused by a complex combination of factors – including diseases, parasites, mono-cropping and exposure to insecticides, herbicides and fungicides – that progressively weaken the bees’ individual and collective immune systems.
Colleges and universities that apply to become certified Bee Campuses must commit to development of habitat plans, hosting of awareness events, development of courses or workshops that support pollinators, sponsorship and tracking of service-learning projects for students, posting of educational signs and maintaining a pollinator-related web presence.
Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer