Chillicothe Public Library is introducing an exciting new eight-session program series for 2019, “Pollinators: What’s the Buzz?” The library is partnering with community members, scientists, museums, and conservation groups to bring an in-depth exploration of topics related to pollinators and their interactions with human civilization. Attendees are also invited to become citizen scientists through hands-on activities such as raising butterflies at home and participating in a photography contest.

The first introductory program will be on Tuesday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. Mike Contratto, a master naturalist and community member who helped to coordinate the series, will discuss what pollinators are, their importance to human food production, other ways they improve our lives, and some ways we can protect endangered pollinator species. 

In “Gardening for Pollinators” on Feb. 26, Contratto shares tips anyone can use to make their yards and gardens more inviting and attractive to pollinators, and talks about why this can help gardens be more colorful and fruitful.

On March 21, Dr. Abigail Derby Lewis, a senior conservation ecologist at The Field Museum, will continue the discussion of why what you plant matters, focusing on the impact of urban habitat on people and nature. She will highlight The Field Museum’s Urban Monarch Conservation program and their efforts to understand the role and opportunities small and mid-sized cities have in supporting monarchs and other pollinators. Peoria is one of the pilot cities the museum is working with in this study.

On April 4, biologist Andrew Diallesandro will zoom in for a close look at the Rusty Patch Bumble Bee. This bee, native to the Midwest, has recently been declared an endangered species, and the Peoria area has been chosen as a target area for increasing the Rusty Patch population. Diallesandro will discuss the efforts of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in this area and what you can do to help.

Pollinators tend to be very small and move quickly! Photography is a great tool for citizen scientists to identify and record different species. On May 23, Lesley Deem, director of Univeristy of Illinois’ Pollinatarium, will join Mike Contratto to teach a variety of ways to photograph pollinators and share information about citizen scientist websites were you can post your photos.

Though honeybees are not native to North America, they have been widely valued for their honey and used in crop pollination, and many people enjoy raising bees as a hobby. On June 20, beekeeper and educator Steve McNair will provide an overview about honeybees, share tips about how to get started in beekeeping, and talk about some of his unique bee-related projects.

On July 18, you can join the Central Illinois Monarch Butterfly Task Force and learn how to raise monarch and swallowtail butterflies in your home. You’ll build a butterfly cage to take home, and we’ll explore the library’s prairie for eggs or caterpillars you can raise.

On Aug. 29, Angella Moorehouse, field biologist and natural areas preservation specialist with Illinois Nature Preserve Commission, will discuss how she uses pollinator photography to identify native pollinators and document what flowers they visit, their habitats, and their behavior. She will also be announcing the winners of the citizen science photography contest.

“Introduction to Pollinators” will take place Tuesday, Jan. 29, at 6:30 p.m., at Chillicothe Public Library, 430 N. Bradley Ave., Chillicothe, IL 61523. For more information on this program series, please visit chillipld.org or call 309-274-2719.