UCI’s Bee-Friendly Committee aims to protect pollinators by following the “Bee Campus” certification framework created by Xerces Society. Under this framework, we coordinate programs that educate and mobilize students, faculty, and staff on the issue of declining pollinator populations. To accomplish this, we oversee planning for sustainable operations, informative and hands-on workshops, and engage in leadership and facilitation training in combination with the UCI Sustainability Resource Center. We offer opportunities for students to develop leadership and communication skills through positions in the Committee.
Our aim is to maintain social and physical infrastructure that protects pollinators’ rights to life and energy. In doing so, we also hope to combat larger issues of environmental injustice, species death, diminishing biodiversity, pesticide poisoning, and food insecurity. Through raising awareness of pesticides and habitat fragmentation, we intend to address sustainability issues regarding land conservation and agriculture. We will track and sustain progress towards campus and systemwide sustainability measures to aid native pollinators, plants, and other animals in our community.
Efforts toward Bee Campus certification began in 2018, from within UCI’s chapter of the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG). The nonprofit had already had success with attaining Bee Campus certification at other universities through their “Save the Bees” Campaign framework; so Rory Stewart — CALPIRG’s organizer supervising the UCI chapter at the time — proposed bringing the campaign here. Celine Saade, a 2nd year undergraduate, took on the responsibility of coordinating the campaign for the first two quarters of that school year. She was motivated by her love of gardening; as she explained, leading this new campaign for Bee Campus certification was a “natural choice because there’s no gardening without pollinators.” Celine added, “Since Earth can’t speak, we have to speak for it… [and] it would want us to take care of it and its pollinators.” (She later graduated in 2020 with a major in biology, a field she chose because of her concern for bodies and health.)
At the time, there was one UC with certification, but UCI faculty and staff were very open to the initiative. According to Celine, one outstandingly supportive staff member was Dr. Peter Bowler, faculty advisor for the UCI Arboretum and Herbarium; and even now, he continues to provide immense wisdom and energy to our team. Celine’s campaign mainly targeted the use of pesticides at UCI, particularly neonicotinoids. They also requested more pollinator-friendly plants on campus, and this resulted in a few particular flowers at the campus’ outskirts, at the parking lot between PSLA and MSTB.
Celine’s campaign concluded after those first two quarters of the 2018-2019 academic year. But the following school year, Sage Wuu — a first year undergraduate and new member of CALPIRG — rediscovered and reestablished the campaign at UCI. As a freshman studying biological sciences as well, Sage fulfilled most of the requirements for certification: she formed a “Bee-Friendly Committee” of faculty and staff, she obtained $500 in funding for the application fee, and so on. When summer came, she passed the project to Alyssa Romea, a rising sophomore studying political science and environmental science and policy. Building upon Sage’s work, Alyssa fulfilled the last requirement for certification, which was receiving an endorsement from the chancellor. On February 3, 2021, UCI officially became a certified Bee Campus.
Now, the Bee-Friendly Committee maintains UCI’s Bee Campus certification, coordinating programs that educate and mobilize people on the issue of declining pollinator populations.