Youth learn about pollinators in University of Illinois Extension event at Spring Valley

1 of every 3 bites of food exist because of pollinators

Lilly Lindstrom observes native plants in the garden at Spring Valley Hall High School.

Did you know that one of every three bites of food we eat exists because of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, birds and bats?

Staff at University of Illinois Extension is aware of this fact and wanted to share this, and other facts, with local youth.

On July 28, the 4-H and master gardener/master naturalist staff hosted a pollinator experience called “Pollinator Celebration” at Hall High School in Spring Valley. The goal for this program was to teach youth the importance of pollinators in the environment and the pollinators’ importance in the world.

The program began by exploring the pollinator gardens at Hall High School and observing native flowers through identification markers, observation forms and sketches. The garden was in bloom with black-eyed susans, coneflowers, rattlesnake masters, milkweed varieties and many others for the youth to observe.

After getting a sense of the types of flowers in the garden, participants learned about flower traits, which pollinators prefer them and why. For instance, bats prefer fragrant, white flowers that open at night. Flies prefer flowers with unpleasant odors. Once the types of pollinators and flower traits were discussed, participants made tissue paper flowers and matched their flowers with the pollinators that would be attracted to each. They also got to observe different flower species, pollinator parts and pollen under microscopes.

After learning about the topic, participants made their own pocket greenhouses with baggies and cotton balls to grow their own plants. They also made seed bombs, which was a messy, fun project. The seed bombs were taken home to dry and “throw” into areas void of plant life. The group discussed places such as ditches, empty areas in their backyards or empty gardens to place the seed bombs and watch them grow. Participants left the program with extra seeds, a pollinator ag mag, information on Pollinator Pathways (a pollinator tracking program) and extra observation sheets. The message they left with was to be continued and shared.

Participants at the Pollinator Celebration at Hall High School in Spring Valley make seed bombs.

With the monarch butterfly recently being added to the endangered species list, and the importance of pollinators to food access, University of Illinois 4-H and master gardener/master naturalist programs are dedicated to providing youth and adults with more opportunities to learn about pollinators and native plants. The “Pollinator Celebration” is just one of many planned throughout the year.

The mission of University of Illinois Extension is to provide practical education to help people, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills and build a better future. University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. Go to for information.

If you have questions or need information, call University of Illinois Extension-Bureau, La Salle, Marshall, Putnam Unit Office at 815-224-0889.

Native flowers from the pollinator garden at Hall High School in Spring Valley.