UNO Sustainability Committee introduces new pollinator garden to campus


Kamrin Baker

Several members of the UNO student government are standing next to a sign that indicates the location of their new pollinator garden
Members of the Sustainability Committee celebrate their plot of land outside of UNO’s Criss Library. Photo courtesy of UNO Student Government.

Members of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Sustainability Committee have implemented a pollinator garden outside of Criss Library to foster sustainability on campus; a culmination of nearly two years of work.

Former Student Government senator and 2019 UNO graduate Trevor Harlow said he was pushing for a pollinator garden since 2017. He said the garden was originally part of a larger project to pursue a “Bee Campus” certification for the university, which aims to foster “ongoing dialogue to raise awareness of the role pollinators play in our community,” according to Bee City USA.

Harlow worked with the campus’s Landscape Services in 2017 and 2018 until he found a suitable location for the plot: directly to the west of the shuttle stop outside the library.

“I got funding for plants from Student Government through a resolution and I made a list of suitable plants that were native, pollinator friendly, largely drought resistant, and added a beautification component to the area,” Harlow said. “Following the initial planting in April of 2018 I continued the project the following year, even though a Bee Campus certification was no longer able to be pursued.”

Harlow began developing a system to make the garden a more sustainable practice, tying in plans to keep adding more plants by Student Government funding every April during Earth Month.

“The pollinator garden is strictly meant to be for native pollinators, and because various types of other plants can negatively affect pollinator effectives, I handled the decision on what plants to get myself, with some advisement from an UNO professor with familiarity and effective plant types,” Harlow said.

Although the pollinator garden did not qualify UNO to be a Bee Campus, it would make the university eligible to be a Tree Campus. Tree Campuses must meet five standards toward bettering the campus environment to gain this recognition, according to the Arbor Day Foundation.

After Harlow’s graduation, members of the Sustainability Committee stepped up to the plate to continue the growth.

Yusuf Khan is now the Chair of the Sustainability Committee as part of the Student Senate and said he worked throughout the summer to put up signage and de-weed the area with campus landscapers.

“The Pollinator Garden is very important to us because it’s something that students are able to see every day,” Khan said. “We’ve already had some students reach out that are interested in sustainability because they saw the signage at the pollinator garden and want to get involved with our committee.”

Sustainability Committee member Sydney Rogers-Morrell said the team is looking forward to the educational benefits and student involvement aspect of the garden.

“Students can get involved with the garden by reaching out to the Sustainability Committee,” Rogers-Morrell said. “We could always use help watering it. Anybody who wants to know the science behind it could reach out with questions, as well. Any student who wants to help plant things would be welcomed when we do that in the spring.”

Future plans from the Sustainability Committee include plastic straw and bag bans, planting more trees and plants in the pollinator garden, campus composting and more.

“We are trying our best to create projects that students and organizations can get involved in, and also that are visible on campus,” Khan said. “Visible, focused, involve-able change.”