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WWU receives Bee Campus Certification, pledges to protect pollinators

The certification will help pollinators by increasing the number of native plants, protecting nest sites and limiting pesticides.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Western Washington University (WWU) is now a Certified Bee Campus.  

This means WWU is now recognized by the Xerces Society, an organization dedicated to global pollinator conservation. The Bee Campus USA program helps pollinators by increasing the number of native plants, protecting nest sites and limiting pesticides on campus.

Fairhaven College at WWU is home to the Outback Farm. The 5-acre farm is surrounded by protected wetlands and is home to about 12 classes on year-round farm skills. This year, they will offer the first course that is exclusively about beekeeping.

Terri Kempton is the Outback Farm manager and said their outdoor classroom is a reflection of the 50-year anniversary they’re celebrating this year. 

“Fifty years ago a group of intrepid students moved outside, built a barn, got some animals, started farming and decided that it was now a farm,” Kempton said.

Kempton said the new affiliation with the Xerces Society is a way that the university has pledged to protect pollinators on campus. Education, landscaping and the university's beekeeping program will help them thrive.

It’s estimated that pollinators help to produce about one-third of the food we consume. Research has shown significant declines in native pollinator population sizes globally. Up to 40% of pollinator species on Earth are at risk of extinction in the coming years as a result of environmental stressors including habitat loss and degradation, exposure to pesticides, diseases and pathogens and climate change, according to the Xerxes Society.

Sasha Mosier is a student and the operations manager for Outback Farm and will help lead the upcoming courses focused on beekeeping. 

“Honestly, this is one of the most exciting things ever for me because I never expected to be a beekeeper,” Mosier said.

Several years of learning on the farm and several bee-keeping certifications have prepared Mosier to lead hands-on hive education. 

“They are so fascinating and so tiny but many people are scared of them. It’s scarier to think of what would happen if they keep dying off,” Mosier said.

The working farm also produces fruits and vegetables with chickens providing eggs. 

Caskey Russell is the Dean of Fairhaven College and said he’s especially proud that it’s a food justice farm.  

“Not all students can afford honey and we are proud to offer all of the honey and produce we grow here to students facing food insecurity," Russell said.

For more information on the Certified Bee Campus courses, Outback Farm and their upcoming events, follow them on Instagram.

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