YEP Update – March

With spring in the air, YEP youth headed west to the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus.  Our visit included three world-renowned facilities; the Monarch Lab, the Bee Lab and the Raptor Center.

We toured both the Monarch Lab and the newly opened Bee Lab with Julia and James, two graduate students and members of FrenataeMonarch Lab is a leading resource for monarch conservation.  Their work includes scientific research, conservation work, and several education outreach programs.  At the Lab, we examined collections while Julia explained her research in native prairie pollinators.

We saw a variety of species of Lepidoptera that Julia had collected both here in Minnesota and during her travels to the south west corner of the United States.    A world-class conservation leader right in our own backyard provides a wonderful learning opportunity.

As we wrapped up our tour of the Monarch Lab, Julia brought us to the new Bee Lab.  Opened in the fall of 2016, the Bee Lab houses innovative research facilities and community outreach programs like the Bee Squad.  Julia introduced us to James, who in turn, introduced us to the wonderful world of bees.

Often, when we think bees, we think honey!  Did you know, most of the 400 species of Minnesota bees are solitary and do not live in social hives that produce honey?  Solitary bees still play an important role as the pollinators we depend on.  Understanding how they function within ecosystems provides information that drives best practices.

A trip to the U of M is not complete without a tour of the Raptor Center.  The Raptor Center provides rehabilitative care to approximately 800 birds of prey each year.  Called upon by wildlife biologists from around the world, the Raptor Center also works to identify emerging environmental issues related to raptor health.  The center is home to several raptors who serve as ambassadors to their species.  Kathy guided our tour of the facility, introducing us to the ambassador species and their fascinating adaptations.

Visiting a variety of conservation organizations is a great way for young people to explore future career paths and learn more about important environmental issues in Minnesota.  So what’s YEP doing to ensure a brighter future for everyone?  If February, the Urban Roots team celebrated their work with the Phalen Freeze Fest.  In March, the Roseville team kicked off their RAHS Recycles program.  The Roseville YEP team is committed to reducing waste by improving participation in their recycling program.  Check out one of several PSA’s the team produced for their March recycling drive!