Sally Rockey on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Last month the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR) announced a $7 million investment in Pollinator Health. FFAR targeted key gaps in our ability to focus research into innovative and concrete initiatives that can change practices in the world. This week we are joined by Dr. Sally Rockey, who became the inaugural Executive Director of FFAR in 2015. Prior to this role, Dr. Rockey was an award-winning leader in Federal research. She spent 19 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture where she held a number of positions within the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. Very early in her career she became the head of the competitive grants program, overseeing the extramural grants process and portfolio. Dr. Rockey brought her experience in agriculture research to her 11-year career at the National Institutes of Health, where she emphasized the connection between agriculture, food, and health. As Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Dr. Rockey oversaw the operations of the largest Federal extramural research program and led groundbreaking initiatives and activities that have and will have a lasting positive impact on the research community.

Dr. Rockey received her Ph.D. in Entomology from the Ohio State University and did postgraduate work at University of Wisconsin prior to joining the government. She has devoted her career to improving people’s lives through research and will continue her mission by seeing FFAR become an essential component of the scientific enterprise.

Listen in to today’s episode to learn more about FFAR, the work they are doing to help pollinator research, and how they are helping citizen scientists.

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“We consider the topic of pollinators and pollinator health to be vital to agriculture and to the success of the United States’s agriculture.” – Sally Rockey

Show Notes:

  • What FFAR is and how it was established
  • How FFAR worked to reach beyond standard conservation in helping pollinators
  • How citizen scientists can get involved with FFAR
  • The future of FFAR
  • How FFAR is associated with the USDA
  • What research FFAR is doing to improve pollinator habitats
  • Why education outreach is so important in achieving FFAR’s goals

“Because the public plays such an important role in pollinator health, it’s important to be able to educate the public.” – Sally Rockey

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Steve Frank on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Steve Frank is an entomologist who recognizes that urban trees provide a lot of services back to people living in cities. Trees also provide a lot resources to pollinating insects as well. Given the importance of trees to broad ecological systems, Dr. Frank looks for practical and innovative ways to preserving tree health. His lab also studies how the urban heat island effect increases insect pest abundance and damage on urban trees and the congruence between urban and global warming to determine if cities could serve as canaries in the coal mine of climate change to predict pest outbreaks in natural forests.

Listen in to learn about how urban environments affect pollinators, what homeowners and civil planners can do to improve them, and which plants and trees are best for the city.

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“People can even help their own local micro-habitat by shading their driveway and their house and things like that, which saves you energy to boot.“ – Steve Frank

Show Notes:

  • How urbanization affects pollinators and their habitats
  • What you can do to help pollinators in your urban community
  • How cities can design their spaces to better suit their natural landscape and it’s pollinators
  • How Steve uses “habitat complexity” to better urban landscapes
  • Why stressed plants can produce many problems for pollinators
  • Steve’s recommendations on plants for pollinators at your home
  • How Steve finds his favorite books

“You have a master gardener in your neighborhood who’s really driving a community garden or something like that. That comes and goes, but the trees will still be there.“ – Steve Frank

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George Hansen on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

After a short six-year career as a public school teacher, George and his wife Susan transformed a hobby beekeeping operation into a commercial endeavor. The business started from a few swarms and a collection of retrieved nuisance hives, but now runs 5000 + colonies in three states. Sons Matt and Joe are incrementally taking control of the business, as George moves towards an as yet undefined retirement. Although the name of the company never changed, the focus of the beekeeping is now primarily pollination service, with honey, wax and bee sales making up no more than 30 percent of gross revenues. George is an active member of the beekeeping community, promoting the industry’s interests as past president of the American Beekeeping Federation. For a decade he served as a producer representative on the National Honey Board. He continues to serve as a trustee on the Foundation for the Preservation of the Honey Bee, and on the board of the Bee Informed Partnership. Currently George represents the industry on the national Honey Bee Health Coalition. For twenty years, he has hosted an annual Bee Day workshop and orientation at the Foothills Honey Company home site.

Listen to today’s episode to learn George’s experience as a land manager, good practice in cultivating pollinator habitats, and his work in the advocacy of pollinators.

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“We’re creating in many areas what are virtually pollinator deserts.“ – George Hansen

Show Notes:

  • How George got started in beekeeping
  • What George does to prepare a site for pollinators
  • The challenges land managers face with pollinator habitats
  • Why pollinator habitats have been diminishing among land managers
  • What George sees as a solution
  • How the Bees and Butterfly Habitat Fund has helped protect pollinators

“You can grow almost anything in the Willamette Valley if you have water, the question is whether this kind of forage plot would be worth watering.“ – George Hansen

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Linda Hardison is the leader of the Oregon Flora Project, based out of Oregon State University’s Herbarium. The Oregon Flora Project seeks to present scientifically sound information about the vascular plants of Oregon that grow without cultivation in formats that are useful to generalists as well as to scientists. With projects such as their interactive Oregon Plant Atlas, their smartphone app, and their upcoming book “A Flora of Oregon”, they are cultivating an invaluable resource for scientists and hobbyists throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Listen in to learn more about the Oregon Flora Project, the amazing benefits their research and data collection has on pollinators, and what’s in store for the future.

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“The Oregon Flora Project is striving to make information useful and relevant…to a broad sector of the population.“ – Linda Hardison

Show Notes:

  • The mission of the Oregon Flora Project
  • How the Oregon Flora Project benefits pollinators
  • What started the project
  • What benefits have been found in making the OFP database
  • How Linda’s team streamlined the dichotomous key identification process
  • How the Oregon Flora Project is taking advantage of new software and open-source platforms
  • The exciting possibilities for citizen scientists to contribute
  • What’s next for the Linda’s program
  • How gardeners will benefit from a new development of Oregon Flora Project
  • Why Linda’s favorite tool is a plastic bag

“A lot of people aren’t going to go to the effort and expense of making a plant specimen for a herbarium, so by having observations, the data sets are so much richer and so much more than if we had to rely only on specimens.“ – Linda Hardison

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David Phipps is considered one of the Northwest’s leaders in golf course environmental stewardship and innovation. While working as the superintendent at Stone Creek Golf, he received the GCSAA President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2012, as well as the 2004-2005 Cooperator of the Year by the Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District. David received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Oregon State University in Horticulture, Turf and Landscape Management, and currently works for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America as the NW Region Field Staff Representative.

Today we’re talking about pollinator habitats curated within golf courses, how they can best be utilized, and David’s amazing contributions to conservation and the golf industry.

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“I think there’s a place in almost every model of golf course [for pollinators].” – David Phipps

Show Notes:

  • How David became involved in the intersection of golf and conservation
  • Why David’s program became the gold standard for golf courses around the country
  • How courses around the world have contributed to pollinators in different ways
  • The ways David developed the habitat alongside the course
  • What lessons David has learned from the pollinator habitat projects
  • How irrigation and improper preparation can cause habitats to fail
  • The way that pollinators fit into different kinds of courses

“If you’ve got an area that’s not going to see balls landing but you can still benefit from the beautification of the wildflowers, those are areas that can be utilized.” – David Phipps

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Aimee Code is the Pesticide Program Director at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

During her career she has worked in urban and agricultural setting to mitigate the risks of pesticide use and promote integrated pest management programs.

She also works with communities ​around the country to implement policies and practices to restore dwindling pollinator populations.​

Today we discuss how to mitigate the use of chemicals and pesticides on farms and around pollinator habitats, as well as what to do when you have to use chemicals.

We talk about the best places to build and locate pollinator habitat, and more.

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“If we take step back we realize that about half of the US land base is agriculture.” – Aimee Code

Show Notes:

  • What the Xerces society is all about
  • The initiatives that they have to work with farmers to better preserve pollinators
  • How to look for habits in agriculture landscapes
  • What the society does to put pollinator habit back in place where it was lost
  • Why they are focusing on habit for pollinators instead of other aspects of conservation
  • How pesticide exposure commonly happens
  • How to create more resilient farming practices so that less chemicals are being used
  • The growing body of research on how harmful fungicides can be to pollinators
  • How to choose where your pollinator habits are going to be located
  • Why native bees are often more at risk to pesticides than honey bees

“He used to work to deter insects on his farm. Now he’s working to support beneficial insects. It’s a complete shift in his thinking.” – Aimee Code

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