The new Shepherdstown Public Library sits on 4½ acres of land that was formerly the town dump. Soon it will become a showplace where families can come and see gardens of flowers, trees and shrubs native to our area. These gardens will be havens for pollinators — bees, wasps, butterflies, and a host of other animals — that help perpetuate plants and sustain our food supply. To celebrate and offer instruction on creating your own pollinator gardens, several local organizations and businesses have partnered to produce “Pollinator Palooza,” a four-day, family-friendly program scheduled for September 7th to the 10th.
The Event Organizers
Pollinator Palooza is sponsored by the American Conservation Film Festival and the Garden Stewards of the Shepherdstown Public Library, with support from Tangled Bank Studios (Howard Hughes Memorial Institute), and in partnership with the Potomac Valley Audubon Society as well as Four Seasons Books in Shepherdstown. Peggy Bowers, Diana Oddenino and Carolyn Thomas of the Library Garden Stewards planned and coordinated the event.
Schedule of Events
Wednesday, September 7
Things start buzzing at 10 am with a child-friendly bee talk. Artist and beekeeper Mike Austin will describe and illustrate what happens inside a beehive and demonstrate some of the equipment beekeepers use. At 11 am, Sue Mellott will recount some gardening stories and then give children seeds to take home and plant. At noon visitors are invited to bring a bag lunch and find out what garden designer Peggy Bowers has planned for the pollinator garden. Drinks and dessert will be provided.
From 2 until 4 pm, Amy Thomas and Laurel Schwartz of the Potomac Valley Audubon Society (PVAS) will lead a nature scavenger hunt. Adults and children can learn how to identify insects and plants that now live near the library using the iNaturalist app. Wednesday evening’s guided bird walk led by the PVAS will show beginners how to use spotting scopes, binoculars, and the Merlin app to identify birds on the library property.
Thursday, September 8
At 10:15 am children can join Amy Thomas and Laurel Schwartz to hear stories and create craft projects about butterflies and bees, and then go on a butterfly and bee safari on the library property. From 2 to 4 pm kids are invited to play Nature Bingo and enjoy an ice cream treat on the library patio. The evening program begins at 7 pm at the Byrd Center Auditorium on Shepherd University campus. Two short films, “The Power of Pollinators” and “Sym-BEE-osis,” explore the mysteries of pollinators. Beekeeper Mike Austin will be on hand to answer any questions. Drinks and dessert will be provided.
Friday, September 9
A guided bird walk for adults will start at 7:30 am on the library grounds. At 10:15, kids can discover many ways that trees and wildflowers spread their seeds. All day, kids get a chance to draw a picture of a pollinator garden and meet the library’s pollinator garden designer, Peggy Bowers. Starting at 1 pm, I will lead an afternoon chalk talk where everyone can join me to create a mural of butterflies, bees and other pollinators. We’ll draw with chalk on the library sidewalk. Chalk will be provided by the library.
Saturday, September 10
Starting at 9 am the whole family gets a chance to contribute to a citizen science program. Bring your iPhone or Android phone to the library and learn how to use the iNaturalist app to identify plants and insects that live around the library. You can contribute to the library’s data baseline for a study on how the future gardens diversify the insect and wildflower populations.
Between 10 am and 4 pm families will get a chance to plant seeds in the pollinator garden or get seeds and pots to take home. At 10 and 11 am, we will reprise the two short films that explore the mysteries of pollinators. Also at 11 am — come join me in completing the sidewalk chalk mural of butterflies, birds and flowers.
Doug Pifer is an artist, naturalist, and writer. He has a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Penn State and has been an editor and art educator. His illustrations have appeared in various books and magazines and he has been a contributor to The Observer for several years. He lives with his wife and assorted animals on 5.7 acres in a historic farmhouse near Shepherdstown, West Virginia.By Doug Pifer