Conservation Sustainability

Climate City 2020

Go Virtual or Go Home: Pollinator Celebration ‘20

Pollinator Celebration 2020

Bombus impatiens, common Eastern bumble bee. Photo by Pamela Dupuis

By Joshua Blanco

This June marks the 8th anniversary of the annual Pollination Celebration, a monthlong series of events intended to educate and inspire people of all ages to join the global mission to save the world’s pollinators. But as a result of the pandemic, organizations are having to adapt fast to ensure continued progress.

Such is the case with local organizers at Asheville GreenWorks working to champion the cause for the restoration of native pollinators. When Phyllis Stiles founded Bee City USA in 2012 as a means of raising awareness for pollinators, the response was immediate: people all over the country recognized this designation as a golden opportunity to be more environmentally conscious. But, in order to be labeled a Bee City, a city had to host an annual awareness event.

Stiles launched Pollination Celebration! as a way to unite the community in a week that would be both educational and entertaining. “We want everybody to get into the fun of conserving pollinators,” she says. “It’s been a huge success and every year it has grown.”

Normally, the month is filled with events like a pollinator safari, trips to farmers’ markets and lectures from renowned ecologists. But this year, of course, with people adhering to social distancing measures, Stiles and her team had to go back to the drawing board. Their choice was simple: go virtual or go home. They chose the former.

Like many environmental organizations trying to adapt right now, the planning committee understands that just because one threat emerges does not mean another goes away. “We’re basically resetting,” says Peter Menzies, GreenWorks environmental educator who co-chairs the planning committee with Stiles. “A lot of the things that were planned don’t necessarily translate to a virtual format.” But Stiles and Menzies feel that their mission is too important to abandon. Approximately one in three bites of food is the result of our pollinators and they also aid in the production of about 75 percent of our crops.

Sponsored by Carolina Native Nursery, Pollination Celebration! will kick off on June 1 with a photo contest to encourage people to get outside while still maintaining a healthy distance from others. Contest winners will be announced at the beginning of July. First prize is a $250 shopping spree at Reems Creek Nursery. “The spirit is for people to get outside and enjoy native flowers and pollinators,” says Menzies. “These seemingly small creatures have this monumental ecological role that literally sustains our ecosystems and makes life as we know it possible. This is a really important issue to bring into the spotlight and one we can all play a role in.”

Later events throughout the month include a workshop presented by Reems Creek Nursery, an online screening, a lecture and a webinar. There will also be activities designed for kids on the Asheville GreenWorks website.

For more information on Pollination Celebration! or to find out how you can get involved in the fight to preserve pollinators, visit and

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