Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Day without Chocolate?

Part of the USFWS booth included a flower dissection station!
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
Who loves chocolate?
Probably most of you. And for those who don’t, this post also applies to apples, strawberries, coffee, kiwi, broccoli and just about every type of fruit, vegetable or flower that you yourself might have in your garden. All of these items have one very important thing in common with one another, and this past weekend I not only got to learn about this for myself, I also shared these fun but important facts with attendees at the Wallowa Resources Watershed Festival in Enterprise, Oregon. 

After dissecting flowers guests
got to share in some pollinated food!
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
Find Your Connection
As part of my role with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife’s Connecting People with Nature team, I’m looking for unique ways to show the importance of nature in our everyday lives, and what better way to do this than through delicious, sweet chocolate! By now you are probably wondering what chocolate has to do with nature. The answer comes down to one simple skill practiced by many of our wildlife friends – pollination! All of those yummy treats that I listed above depend on pollinators like bees, butterflies and even bats to reproduce. (Read more about the process of pollination and chocolate!).Without these important species, we might never experience the joy of chocolate consumption (or broccoli of course)!

Learning the different parts of a flower,
and the process of pollination.
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
Flowers and Apples and Chocolate, Oh My!
In celebration of National Pollinator Week, U.S. Fish & Wildlife themed our booth at this year’s Watershed Festival around pollinators through three themes: pollinators, pollination, and pollinated food! We spent the day teaching kids, adults and grandparents alike how to dissect a flower, and how to count seeds in an apple to determine if it’s been fully pollinated (it has to have ten seeds!). Finally, after explaining the process of pollination of the chocolate flower, we handed out chocolates donated by local Arrowhead Chocolates. Experiencing nature through flowers, apples and chocolate was nothing short of a hit!

Helping Pollinators at Home
Now that you know a bit more about the importance of pollinators in your everyday life, make sure to get outside and lend a helping hand to the little creatures you find flying around your plants! Without them, we could suffer more than just a day without chocolate! Also, if you have any stories to share about pollinators in your garden, tips for keeping them around, or even want to name some more plants that depend on pollinators, leave some comments! 

Watch "The Beauty of Pollination" 

More great resources on pollinators, and what you can do to be involved in their conservation in your own backyard/community garden/balcony!

Educational Resources (Videos, games, and lessons for teachers!)
“Pick the Pollinator” – interactive game from PBS!

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