Stories in Oklahoma

Plight of the Pollinators

A Campaign for Habitat Protection, Restoration and Collaboration with Agriculture

Meadow of wildflowers blooming at the Oka' Yanahli Preserve at sunset.
Across The Pairie The river gives life for the prairie to blossom. © Steven Hunter

In 2014, Oklahoma lost more pollinators than anywhere else in the nation.

— State Impact Oklahoma

Monarch caterpillar eating a milkweed leaf.
Monarch caterpillar Monarch butterfly caterpillar on common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). © Chris Helzer/TNC

Oklahoma is home to hardworking pollinators like butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, moths and flies. However, the steady decline in pollinators has both farmers and conservation scientists concerned, considering all the benefits that humans derive from native pollinators. With Oklahoma's extensive areas of agricultural production, the decrease has likely resulted from a combination of habitat loss, diminishing food resources and drought.

To address this, The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma launched the Plight of the Pollinators Campaign with a goal of raising $5.5 million for habitat protection, stewardship and restoration, and collaboration with agriculture.

To reach our goal, we need your support. Will you join us? Together, we can make a real difference for pollinator populations across Oklahoma and North America that will positively impact biodiversity and, in turn, our food supply for future generations.

Plight of the Pollinators Campaign Update

As of April 26 2022

Progress

$4,770,875 raised through your generosity

Progress: 86.7%

Goal of $5,500,000

Oklahoma Isn't Alone in Pollinator Decline

Mexico is one of 13 mega-diverse countries in the world and is home to 10-12% percent of the world's species. For the past eight years, TNC Latin America has implemented Integrated Landscape Management in sites throughout the state of Chiapas, benefiting both people and nature through its improved pollinator-friendly agricultural practices.

Rampant deforestation, habitat conversion to agriculture and chemical fertilizers have put approximately 700 species at grave risk. Presently, 55% percent of Chiapas' land is devoted to ranching, agriculture and coffee production. This region plays an important role in pollinating plants—including the foods we eat.

Mexico and Oklahoma share a specific symbiotic relationship when it comes to monarch butterflies. As monarchs migrate, they pass through Oklahoma and land in Chiapas. When Oklahoma has a thriving pollinator population, Mexico has thriving pollinators.

Help Support Pollinators in Oklahoma

Mail

Make checks payable to The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma noting "Pollinator Campaign" in the memo. Mail to: The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma, 10425 South 82nd East Avenue #104, Tulsa, OK 74133.

Contact Us

If you have questions or wish to make a donation using Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express, please contact: Stephanie Vogel or Barry Maxwell.

Habitat Protection

Secure and conserve critical pollinator habitat in Oklahoma.

Not only does this severe pollinator decline negatively impact natural ecosystems, but it also has direct economic repercussions, as well. Global food production that requires the presence of pollinators is worth from $235 billion to $577 billion each year, with agricultural crops in the United States valued at $29 billion annually.

“Bees are just one type of pollinator that help to ensure that the natural world continues to function,” says Michael Fuhr, state director. “Without them, our prairies would cease to exist. But what many fail to realize is that human beings rely on pollinators almost as much as nature does.”

We rely on pollinators every day.

  • Icon image indicating Chiapas Mexico.

    55%

    In Chiapas, Mexico, 55% of the landscape is devoted to ranching, agriculture and coffee production.

  • Icon image of a sprouting seed.

    75%

    More than 75% of the world's staple crops rely on pollinators for their seed and fruit production.

  • Icon image of a plate and cutlery.

    1 of 3

    Pollinators are responsible for delivering one out of every three bites of food we eat. Imagine your day without coffee, oranges, spinach, tomatoes or avocados.

Bumble bee on coneflower.
Bumble Bee Bumble bee on purple coneflower © Danae Wolfe/TNC

Habitat Stewardship and Restoration

Ensure long-term pollinator habitat management at our preserves through prescribed fire, grazing, invasive species control and infrastructure.

With more than 107,000-acres protected across Oklahoma, nature preserves provide the needed habitat and refugia for native and migratory pollinators. In North America there are more than 4,000 native bees that are critical for pollinating many of the foods and plants we eat.

Nature preserves not only provide critical habitat, they also allow conservation scientists to monitor how an ecosystem changes over time. In 2012, entomologist and researcher Mike Arduser, visited the Four Canyon Preserve and during his exploration, discovered a native bee that had not been previously described in scientific works.

Significant discoveries are not uncommon. With more than 4,000 different varieties of native bees in North America, we are still determining their impact on the ecosystem. While much focus is given to honeybees, conservationists have learned that native bees are twice as effective at pollination as managed honeybees.

A dairy cow walking through cover crops.
Daisy the Cow Ranchers can promote soil health by planting cover crops that add nutrients back into the topsoil. © Courtesy of Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts
Man holding nutrient rich topsoil during demonstration.
Soil Health Jimmy Emmons showing nutrient rich topsoil during a field day demonstration in Hugo, Oklahoma. © Courtesy of Jimmy Emmons
Daisy the Cow Ranchers can promote soil health by planting cover crops that add nutrients back into the topsoil. © Courtesy of Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts
Soil Health Jimmy Emmons showing nutrient rich topsoil during a field day demonstration in Hugo, Oklahoma. © Courtesy of Jimmy Emmons

Collaboration with Agriculture

Establish partnerships with landowners and organizations to promote soil health management and no-till practices on private lands.

Conservation efforts through collaborative partnerships will support the implementation of pollinator strips, outreach and education as well as other initiatives.

"Demonstration farms and field days allow farmers and ranchers the opportunity to share with each other about what works for their operation and why," says Jimmy Emmons, farmer in Dewey County, Oklahoma." Since the mid 1900s, farmers have been using the demonstration method to try different approaches to conserve natural resources."

TNC’s collaboration with agriculture encourages ranchers and farmers to promote soil health by planting cover crops or pollinator strips that add nutrients back into the topsoil and supply a food source for pollinators.

“We are working with farmers to solve this urgent situation by increasing awareness and improving pollinator habitat on Oklahoma’s farms and nature preserves,” says Fuhr.

Eastern tiger swallowtail on blooming prairie flower.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail The Pontotoc Ridge Preserve at its most natural state with bright butterflies fluttering around a sea of blooming prairie blazing star. © Jeanine Lackey/TNC

"The impact pollinators have on both nature and peoples' lives is extraordinary, and their fragile existence cannot be left to chance. Our gift to the Pollinator Campaign helps provide long-term sustainable support to preserve native pollinator habitat at TNC Oklahoma's Pontotoc Ridge and Oka' Yanahli Preserves. Helping TNC protect large-scale, diverse landscapes like these is a way we felt we could really make a significant, lasting difference."

—Caroline & Guy Patton

Donate to Save Pollinators

Please contact our philanthropy staff if you have questions or wish to make a donation to the Plight of the Pollinators Campaign that supports habitat protection, stewardship and restoration and collaboration with agriculture in Oklahoma and across North America.

Sustaining Oklahoma's Future

Read more to see how habitat protection and restoration alongside collaboration with agriculture will save pollinators across the state.

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