Search for Excellence in Environmental Quality, Forestry and Natural Resources

Travis Harper
Agronomy Specialist
University of Missouri Extension

Harper, T.*1, , Quinn, J. T.*2, , Trinklein, D. H.3, , Edwards, A. D.4, , Wiggins, C. E.5, , Duever, V.6,
1 Agronomy Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, Clinton, MO, 64735
2 Horticulture Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, Jefferson City, MO, 65101
3 Associate Professor of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, 65211
4 Education Coordinator, School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, 65211
5 Beekeeper and Writer, US Forest Service (retired), Rolla, MO, 65401
6 Ecommerce Volunteer, University of Missouri Extension, Columbia, MO, 65211

Pollinators are crucial to wildlife food supply and many agricultural crops. Their populations are threatened. This program trains to protect them with six classes of three hours. The Master Pollinator Steward Program began as a partnership opportunity with Missouri State Beekeepers Association in 2014.  Interest by the public was surging, led by concerns for honeybee hive survival rates and monarch butterfly population declines. A steering committee (comprised of Extension specialists, beekeepers, Master Gardeners, a monarch conservation collaborative, and Master Naturalists) developed this program over three years, with financial assistance from NRCS. Important activities for the program included completing operational guidelines, developing an Extension Webpage, presenting at pollinator conferences, and writing articles for two prominent ‘bee’ journals. Five publications were created to comprehensively address pollinators.

The program was modeled after Master Gardener program in delivery, using publications on a topic, with a matching presentation, in a classroom. Classes are augmented by hands-on activities, take home assignments or experientially influenced discussions. While each publication can ‘stand alone’, teaching all is preferred to improve comprehension. The culmination is the final publication, which delves into conservation and habitat issues. Materials relevant to this class (publication, PPT presentation, and hands on activity description) are the supporting documents.

Over 80 individuals were trained in 2018 and 60+ are already taking it or registered in 2019. It is hoped that about 200 will take it annually. Evaluations from 2018 demonstrated its potential: over 90% found it was very worthwhile attending, 100% found the publications of good value, over 90% found the PowerPoints well done, 100% felt the hands-on activities added value, and over 90% thought the presenters shared their knowledge well. When asked “Are you likely 'to do' anything with what you've learned?”, over 80% said very likely or absolutely. Examples given were: I’m going to rehab property I recently inherited and needed a plan, my wife is making 3 acres  pollinator friendly and now I can help her, as a Master Naturalist I’ll advocate there and improve my 210ac farm, I’ll now read labels pesticide labels and avoid killing bees.