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New date for Planting Fiesta

May 10, 2012

TO: News Editors and Directors

FROM: Judy Berthiaume

DATE: May 10, 2012

SUBJECT: New date for Planting Fiesta

The "Planting Fiesta" that was canceled last weekend because of heavy rains has been rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 14, at the Phoenix Community Gardens, located at the intersection of Forest and Oak streets in downtown Eau Claire.

The fiesta is being organized by the 13 students in a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire honors class. The students — several of whom are Chippewa Valley natives — in the "Civic Agency: Environmental Stewardship" class have spent the semester establishing Partnerships for Pollinators, a student-initiated project that is dedicated to promoting the stewardship of the pollinator species that are important to the Chippewa Valley's ecosystem.

Research shows that pollinating animals — including bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles — are vital to the ecosystem and support wildlife, provide a healthy watershed and pollinate food crops and flower gardens. Yet in many places, pollinator species are in crisis due to habitat loss, use of pesticides, and viruses and mites.

The students want to help Eau Claire residents understand how to create and support pollinator habitats within the city, even in very small spaces.

The honors students have researched pollinator habitats, created educational materials about the needs of pollinator species and partnered with community organizations, schools, businesses and individuals to build support for their project. They hope community members will begin talking to one another about pollinator habitats, creating neighbor-to-neighbor support for the project.

On Monday, the students and community members will plant a pollinator habitat, which the local Girl Scouts organization has agreed to maintain.

Dr. Ruth Cronje, an associate professor of English who teaches science and technical writing, teaches the course. Mike Huggins, the recently retired city of Eau Claire administrator, has donated his expertise and many hours of his time to the class, helping students develop the skills to be successful community advocates now and in the future.

For details about the Partnerships for Pollinators project, see the project's Facebook page. A story about the project can be found online.

Dr. Ruth Cronje is available to discuss the project and help reporters connect with students. You can reach her at 715-836-5384 or cronjer@uwec.edu.

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