BERLIN – With encouragement from Salisbury University students, town officials agreed to designate Berlin a Bee City.
The Berlin Town Council agreed last week to adopt a resolution proclaiming Berlin as a Bee City USA affiliate.
“The Bee City resolution is a set of commitments focusing on increasing and improving pollinator habitats in municipalities,” student Alyssa Massey said.
Students from an environmental studies senior seminar class at Salisbury University spent the last semester working with town staff on a variety of projects meant to increase sustainability in Berlin. The projects involved signage at Berlin Falls Park, the Bee City resolution and efforts to decrease the use of drinking straws.
“Each group collaborated with a variety of stakeholders during this process,” student Erin McNally said. “By doing so we were able to create projects we understood to fit within the values and needs of the community.”
Massey said the Bee City project was an easy way for the town to help sustain pollinators, which are essential to agriculture. As a Bee City, Berlin will be expected to celebrate National Pollinator Week in June and promote pollinator friendly practices. The designation costs $150 initially and then $150 annually.
Massey told officials that by becoming a Bee City the town would enhance local ecotourism and would increase environmental education. She stressed that swarms of bees were not in the town’s future.
“Strategic pollinator gardens and bee boxes attract solitary bees,” she said.
In addition to promoting pollinators, the students designed potential signage for Berlin Falls Park.
“We learned that the planning process is slow and not all projects are completed in a timescale that we would like,” student Raymond Kimball said.
He added, however, that was understandable and that he and his peers appreciated the fact they’d been able to provide input.
“We have been met with continual support from the local community and feel as though we have learned a great bit about community engagement,” Kimball said.
Other students in the senior seminar worked with downtown restaurants to encourage them to decrease the use of plastic straws.
“Straws are one of the 10 most common types of garbage polluting the ocean,” student Emma Renteria said.
Mayor Gee Williams praised the students and said the initiatives discussed showed the effectiveness of starting from the ground up.
“When things are forced from above down, some people call it trickle down, it’s more like shove it down,” Williams said. “It doesn’t last. It’s actually counterproductive to the goals.”