TN Pollinator Habitat Program | Press Kit

Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 20, 2022

TDOT Announces Polli the Tennessee Bee
New initiative educates students about pollination and pollinator species

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is announcing a series of animated, educational videos about pollination and pollinator species featuring narrator Polli the Tennessee Bee. These episodes educate children about the process of pollination, its importance, and the various pollinator species native to Tennessee.

An initial three episodes in the video series, are entitled “Meet the Pollinators,” “Where Pollinators Live,” and “Changing Environment.” Additional episodes are slated to be released at a later date. The episodes, as well as student and teacher resources, are available for free online at tnpollinators.wpengine.com/meetpolli. All Polli the Tennessee Bee materials are rooted in Tennessee Academic Standards for Science, target a middle school-aged audience, and were peer reviewed by a cohort of Davidson County STEM teachers.

The video series is the latest project for TDOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program, which was established in 2017 and resulted in adjusted mowing and herbicide application practices for TDOT-owned Rights-of-Ways. The program also fostered partnerships to plant pollinator meadows at nearly 15 sites across the state.

“Supporting pollinators is important to Tennessee’s environment and agriculture,” TDOT Commissioner Howard H. Eley said. “By taking steps to educate the public, move forward projects that make an ecological difference, and maintain our Rights-of-Ways according to best management practices, TDOT is doing our part to support pollinators.”

Pollinators are a diverse group of species, including birds, bees, butterflies, bats and beetles. They are critically important to life and pollinate one-third of the food we eat. Pollinator numbers are in steady decline as a result of loss of habitat, pests and pathogens, exposure to pesticides and other stressors. In response, language promoting pollinator-friendly practices along publicly owned Rights-of-Way was included into the nation’s previous transportation funding law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Pub. L. 114-94) in December 2015. Programs and language from the FAST Act were carried forward under the nation’s current such law, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), passed in November 2021 (Pub. L. 117-58).

This announcement is being made in conjunction with TDOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program and National Pollinator Week. National Pollinator Week is a nationwide celebration and awareness effort that calls attention to the steps everyone can take to protect and restore pollinator populations. More information about National Pollinator Week can be found at https://www.pollinator.org/pollinator-week.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Three Departments Partner on Pollinator Initiative in Tennessee State Parks
TDOT, TDEC, TDA benefit pollinators, spread awareness

NASHVILLE – In conjunction with National Pollinator Week, the Tennessee Department of Transportation is announcing a new partnership with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to promote pollinator health and awareness in Tennessee State Parks.

The partnership will feature plantings of pollinator meadows in nine state parks – Pickwick Landing, Paris Landing, Big Hill Pond, Montgomery Bell, Seven Islands, Henry Horton, Reelfoot Lake, Sycamore Shoals, and Warriors Path. In addition to the meadows, the partnership will include interpretive signage at each park to increase the visiting public’s awareness and education.

Many of the Tennessee State Parks receiving a meadow planting and signage are participants in TDEC’s “Honey Project,” which places bee hives in state parks. Each hive is cared for in conjunction with the TDA and has honey harvested annually. Six state parks participated in the project in 2018, its first year, and 18 parks are currently part of the program.

“This partnership is a response to the serious threat to pollinators, and how we as state agencies can work together to create an impactful program,” TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright said.

“Supporting pollinators is important to the state’s environmental and agricultural health,” TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said. “These meadows will offer many benefits to our state parks – from filtering storm water to enhancing the beautiful scenery – while also eventually providing our visitors with local honey.”

“Tennessee farmers and foresters provide food, shelter, and clothing for each of us, and they rely on healthy pollinators,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “We are proud to be a part of this partnership, and we appreciate TDOT and TDEC’s extensive work for this initiative.”

The Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Beautification Division is providing funding for the plantings. Funding will go toward seeds, herbicides, machinery and other items to support plantings. Work is set to begin in the spring of 2020. Tennessee Department of Agriculture State Apiarist Mike Studer is providing technical guidance.

Pollinators are a diverse group of species, including birds, bees, butterflies, bats and beetles. They are critically important to life, and pollinate one-third of the food we eat. Their numbers are in steady decline as a result of loss of habitat, pests and pathogens, exposure to pesticides and other stressors. In response, pollinator-friendly language is included in the nation’s current transportation funding law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Pub. L. 114-94).

TDOT is doing its part to meet these challenges by decreasing rural interstate mowing and adjusting the mixes of herbicides applied to the 13,807 miles of state-maintained roadway rights-of-way. Additionally, rights-of-way are being inventoried for pollinator-friendly vegetation and a new pollinator meadow is being planted at the I-65 Welcome Center in Ardmore (Giles County). For more information about TDOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program, visit: www.tn.gov/tdot/environmental-home/environmental-highway-beautification-office/beautification-pollinator-habitat-program.

National Pollinator Week is a nationwide celebration and awareness effort that calls attention to the steps everyone can take to protect and restore pollinator populations. More information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can be found at https://www.fws.gov/pollinators.

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