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NKU gets Duke Energy grant for Pollinator Habitat Initiative with Cinci Nature Center, area schools

Northern Kentucky University recently received a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to support environmental efforts in southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky.

The NKU Research Foundation was awarded $10,000 to fund the Greater Cincinnati Pollinator Habitat Initiative, a partnership with the Cincinnati Nature Center (CNC) and area schools to increase the pollinator habitats in the community.

NKU and CNC are currently working with six schools this year, and the Duke grant will allow them to expand the program to six more schools in 2020. NKU’s Dr. Kristy Hopfensperger and Dr. Denice Robertson, faculty in the Biological Sciences Department, are coordinating the grant funds for the Greater Cincinnati Pollinator Habitat Initiative.

Dr. Denice Robertson and Dr. Kristy Hopfensperger are coordinating the Greater Cincinnati Pollinator Habitat Initiative grant funds.

Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, are responsible for helping produce about one-third of the world-wide food supply for people by moving pollen from plant to plant resulting in pollination, which produces apples, almonds, and many other fruits and vegetables. Due to a loss of habitat, pollinators have been suffering from declining populations.
“This is a concern that we are all working to address. Our project establishes two plots of land at each school to set up native pollinator habitat. It’s a step to help reverse the decline in monarch and other pollinator populations,” said Dr. Robertson. “We also get to impact future scientists through our encouragement and support.”

With Dr. Robertson and Dr. Hopfensperger’s guidance, students will test the hypotheses on what leads to successful pollinator habitat restoration. NKU has three seed mixes that will be tested in the research.

“We assign each plot to a seed mix. Middle and high school students work with us and our undergraduate research students at NKU to set up the plots.  Beginning this spring, we can start collecting data,” said Dr. Hopfensperger. “Our project is all about collaboration among area schools, the CNC and NKU scientists, and the Duke grant furthers this initiative.”

Pollinator Butterfly

Duke Energy Foundation awarded $250,000 in grants to 16 local environmental agencies – including the NKU Research Foundation– to fund clean water, wetlands protection, and other conservation projects. The Duke Energy Foundation’s Powerful Communities program makes strategic investments to build powerful communities where our natural resources thrive, students can excel, and a talented workforce drives economic prosperity for all.

“Duke Energy continues to be an industry leader in moving toward a cleaner energy future to power our customers’ lives,” said Amy Spiller, Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky president. “We’re committed to the environment and will do our part to recognize programs that advance this mission.”

Five Ohio schools and one Kentucky school are currently participating in the Initiative: Cincinnati Christian, Cincinnati Country Day, Milford Middle and High Schools, Scott High School, St. Xavier High School and West Clermont High School.


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