Bee Campus USA

Bee Campus USA aligns with UTRGV’s commitment to sustainability, which it carries out through university operations, engagement, teaching and research. In addition to UTRGV’s incorporation of native plants into campus landscaping and exclusion of pesticides that are harmful to pollinators, students, staff and faculty from the UTRGV’s Department of Biology and School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences (SEEMS) are contributing to conservation efforts with pollinator gardens, among other efforts. In 2018, Dr. Lucia Carreon Martinez, UTRGV biology lecturer, spearheaded the establishment of the new pollinator garden on the UTRGV Brownsville Campus (The Pollinator Cantina), teaming up with Dr. Alejandro Fierro Cabo (SEEMS faculty), Dr. Julie Mustard (Biology faculty), Sara Black (Biology faculty), and Dr. Rupesh Kariyat (Biology faculty.) This year the efforts continued with the expansion of the Pollinator Cantina.

More pollinator habitat was created with the expansion of the UTRGV pollinator cantina as part of phase 2 of the project. This phase consisted in the construction of 16 new plant beds edged with reclaimed bricks and soil amended with city compost. Of these beds, 10 were planted with native species of perennial herbaceous and small shrubs. Additionally, drip irrigation lines were installed. To accomplish this, different groups of students participated in different stages of the process through multiple events of student volunteer days. Among the things that students learned were the importance of organic amendments to rehabilitate degraded soils and the process for transplanting native pollinator friendly seedling of multiple species. The annual sponsorship of these projects is one of UTRGV´s next commitments.

In addition, UTRGV commits to educating the campus and broader community about pollinator-friendly landscaping principles by labeling the plants in campus pollinator gardens and posting signage to explain how beneficial insects provide a natural process for pest management and pollination. Signs have been posted across both the Edinburg and Brownsville campus to explain the role of pollinators in food production and to indicate that UTRGV is part of Bee Campus USA.

UTRGV engages the community with urban forestry activities and events throughout the year, such as HESTEC, FESTIBA, and Rio Reforestation. Opportunities for student participation in these events are made possible through the collaboration of the Office for Sustainability, the Department of Biology’s Environmental Science program and Agroecology program, the Department of Community Engagement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Texas Forest Service. The Office of Sustainability partnered with HESTEC to commemorate pollinator day and was one of the last in-person events prior to the campus-wide shut down as a result of the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 120 campuses, with students ranging from K-12, participated in the festivities and engaged in learning activities that further expand their knowledge on the importance of pollinators and had a chance to have a look at the Pollinator Cantina Garden. UTRGV partnered with the Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability and Texas EarthX to celebrate Earth week virtually. Among the presentations offered, a session on Climate Solutions hosting 72 attendees addressed the social, environmental, and economic impacts of pollinators.