Strategic Initiatives

U of I Recognized As Bee Campus USA

Oct 25, 2018 | 11:21 am

Illinois became the first Big Ten school to receive Bee Campus USA distinction.

Bee on a flower

CHAMPAIGN, IL – Making the world safer for pollinators through extensive habitat improvements, awareness efforts, and engagement strategies earned the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recognition as a certified Bee Campus USA–the first Big Ten school to receive this distinction. The Urbana campus becomes the 53rd Bee Campus USA nationally.

The Bee Campus USA program is designed to amass the strengths of educational campuses across the country for the benefit of native bees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, bats, beetles, and flies that 90 percent of the world’s wild plant species rely on.

“This recognition serves as another important building block as we move toward our goal of a more sustainable campus landscape,” said Brent Lewis, university landscape architect.

This program was a student-led effort from concept to reality. The student-centric Bee Campus USA committee was formed in the Sustainability Living-Learning Community in Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall, with collaboration from the Department of Entomology, Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences (NRES), and Facilities & Services (F&S) through the organization’s capital planning, grounds, and sustainability departments.

“The students of the University of Illinois are proud to create a campus that reflects our value of environmental conservation. Attaining Bee Campus USA designation is important to us because it not only displays our university’s commitment to wildlife but also to education and awareness,” said Rachel Daughtridge, NRES student and chair of the committee.

The history of campus pollinator support is rooted in ground-breaking research, with the world-famous May Berenbaum, a recognized authority on insects, as a principal team member. Along with entomologist Dr. Gene Robinson, a leader in honey bee research, Dr. Berenbaum coordinated the development of the Pollinatarium on campus, which was the first free-standing center in the nation devoted to flowering plants and their pollinators. Throughout the year, the Pollinatarium provides tours and workshops on protecting and strengthening pollinator habitat.

To be recognized as a Bee Campus USA, the F&S and the Bee Campus USA committee developed a comprehensive habitat plan, called the 2018 Illinois Bee Campus USA: A Plan for the Pollinators at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It includes an Integrated Pest Management program, a list of native planting areas on campus, and an overview of pollinator outreach and engagement. As part of this designation, the university commits to continue hosting awareness events; coordinating pollinator-focused service projects, courses, and workshops; posting signage to educate the campus; and renewing the Bee Campus USA certification annually.

Bee Campus USA is an initiative of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon. The Xerces Society is focused on raising awareness, enhancing habitats, and celebrating achievements; for more information, visit For more information about Bee Campus USA, visit

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The grounds department maintains the campus throughout the year, providing care for landscape and hardscape in the summer and snow and ice removal during the winter.

The Illini Union on a fall afternoon.

Landscape Architect

The University Landscape Architect oversees site development on the main campus and auxiliaries. All changes to the fabric of campus support the mission of our institution, balancing the needs of aesthetics for staff and students, attracting prospective students and donors, education uses, and sustainability.

The Gelvin Gardens provide an oasis of natural beauty gracing the entrance of the Krannert Art Museum. The gardens, originally designed by landscape architecture professor emeritus Terry Harkness, are maintained by KAM Council Gelvin Gardens volunteers led by Master Gardener Gloria Rainer. The space offers a peaceful place to enjoy flowers, fauna and sculpture work. The gardens are found at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

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