Communication Builds Our Community

Local Scout Earns Silver Award With Environmental Service Project

"Planting for Pollinators" at Lewis Arboretum Teaches Importance of Pollinators to Nature, Food Sources

Courtesy River Selser

Planting the pollinator garden was a large undertaking, and Selser led a team of volunteers who assisted in bringing her ideas to life. Her Selser proudly poses with some of the dozens of pollinator host plants that were being planted in her project garden.

Awareness of the rapid disappearance of pollinators, critically important for agriculture, has inspired one local Girl Scout Cadet to achieve the Silver Award, the highest award in Scouting, while teaching people about these important species.

River Selser, an 8th grade student attending the FLVS Florida Virtual School, is the moving force behind P4P, or "Planting for Pollinators." Selser raise the funds and conducted the project on property owned by the Green Horizon Land Trust as an exhibit teaching visitors of the importance of pollinators and how to help sustain them.

"Pollinators like butterflies and bees are declining due to habitat loss and food source reduction," Selser said. "Pollinators depend on a wide variety of plants, trees, and shrubs. When people build neighborhoods and install mono-culture (one type of plant like grass-only) yards, they reduce and sometimes destroy the plant diversity needed to support pollinator populations."

Courtesy River Selser

In a relaxed moment, hard-working Cadet Scout and Silver Award winner River Selser stands next to one of the beautiful Magnolia Grandiflora trees that are included in the Lewis Arboretum.

The determined young ecologist led a team that helped assemble the garden at the Michael V. Lewis Arboretum, located just south of CR 542 between Dundee and Winter Haven.

"Providing informational signage and a demonstration planting garden to promote pollinators and pollinator-friendly plant choices will passively educate my target audience on ways that they, too, can make a difference by planting for pollinators," Selser said.

The arboretum site was donated to Green Horizon by Talbot Lewis of Orchid Springs and named in honor of his son. Over a period of 40 years, Lewis collected and planted ornamental plants from throughout the state and placed them within a landscape he designed, including one of the largest collections of Chinese fan palms in the world. He also planted most of the other palms that will grow in Central Florida.

The plants Selser selected for her demonstration garden are Florida-friendly, drought tolerant, low maintenance, easy to source or propagate, and have the potential to attract a diverse variety of pollinators, including insects, birds, and other animals.

Courtesy River Selser

New interpretive signage arranged by Selser explain the purpose and value of the plantings and the pollinators that depend upon them. According to Selser the signs will last 10 years or more while educating park visitors on the importance of Central Florida pollinators and plants.

The property hosts a community park with a 1.4 mile trail named in honor of Luther Parrott, past executive director of Green Horizons, complete with picnic facilities.

"It is my team's hope that park visitors may select a plant or two from the demonstration garden to purchase and install in their own yards to support pollinators of Central Florida," Selser said of her project.


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