By Diana Sanchez
Elm Staff Writer
Spring has sprung, the bees are buzzing, and Washington College has received a new certification for being Maryland’s first higher-education institution to be recognized by Bee Campus USA. Being a Bee Campus means that the school is dedicated to sustaining and helping the pollinator population and spreading awareness.
“It’s putting a flag in the ground. OK, we are protectors of pollinators and there is no back peddling involved, we will only do more going forward and I think it ties in really well with WC’s strategic goal of being a multi-disciplinary leader in the study of the environment,” said Campus Garden adviser Shane Brill.
In order to get this certification, a school must meet certain requirements. WC met these requirements with help from the College’s Student Environmental Alliance student leaders, Student Government Association’s Secretary of Environmental Affairs, and several other faculty and staff members, who also encompass WC’s Bee Campus Committee.
WC also supports raising awareness on the role of pollinators and their vulnerable state through its Beekeeping Course that is offered during some spring semesters by Visiting Professor Mike Embry through the Department of Environmental Science and Studies. In the course, students examine bee anatomy and nutrition and learn how to sustain a beehive.
Brill was behind the initiative to become a bee-friendly campus. Katie Walker from Geographic Information Systems first informed Brill about Bee Campus USA and she helped start the application with the SGA.
Sophomore Samantha Howell was fundamental in the process of getting WC to be recognized as a Bee Campus and helped with the application process to get the certification.
“Future initiatives include placing a sign in the Dining Hall to inform students about the importance of pollinators in the food industry,” she said.
Senior Emily Castle was also very involved in the process. Castle is a campus garden intern, president of the Garden Club, and is one of the committee members for Bee Campus USA at the College. She helps lead workshops in the garden on Fridays and sometimes leads additional workshops on the weekend. Recently, the garden club has installed two bee packages, which is essentially a beehive.
“We only hope to scale up our efforts and serve as an educational model for the community. I helped with the Bee Campus USA certification by vouching for the campus garden’s value for pollinators and offering ideas for pollinator-themed activities and projects in the future,” she said.