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Lindsey Vachon

Above, from left: Natalie Hughes ’20, Hannah Wait ’19, Lindsey Vachon ’20, and Iris McPherson ’20. Below, ‘bee’ cookies were offered to students as part of a recent effort to inform them about MCLA’s “Save the Bees” campaign.

Sophomore Spearheads ‘Save the Bees’ Campaign

11/22/17

Bee cookiesWhen she was in high school, Lindsey Vachon ’20 of Townshend, Vt., helped to write a book about bees and beekeeping as part of an internship she served with a local publisher. Since then, her interest in bees and a desire to help them has grown. At MCLA, this English major is leading the charge to transform the College into the first pollinator-friendly campus in Massachusetts.

The project – through her involvement with MASSPIRG, which encourages students to become more active in their communities – came about after Vachon learned of a “Save the Bees” campaign.

“Bees pollinate one out of every three bites of food we humans consume, so without them our diets and world would be incredibly bland,” according to Vachon. “They pollinate most plants that cannot pollinate through the wind. Without bees, we would not enjoy things like apples, strawberries, coffee, chocolate, avocados, and many other fruits and vegetables. The world would be a far less beautiful place without bees, which also help flowers bloom.”

A mixture of pesticide use, climate change, human interference, and habitat loss contributes to colony collapse disorder, Vachon said. This, she explained, “is when a majority of the worker bees leave the queen and nurse bees to care for the hive, and the ones who stay end up dying. … In the case of bees, we most certainly need them to survive, so we should do everything that we can to reverse this mass extinction of bees.”  

As the student coordinator who leads MASSPIRG’s “Save the Bees” campaign, Vachon’s work this academic year includes working with the facilities department to create an ideal environment on campus for bees and other pollinators, so that they may collect a maximum amount of pollen. She also aims to limit or change the use of pesticides which may impede pollen collection. She is assisted by a number of other students on campus who volunteer their time to the campaign.

Other work – which she expects to conclude by late April – includes creating a website; forming a committee to identify pollinator-friendly plants; compiling information on a minimally toxic pest management program; hosting events to raise awareness; encouraging other, related student service learning projects; and looking into offering workshops to educate others on the issue.

As a result of this work, Vachon hopes that, by the end of next semester, MCLA will be certified by Bee Campus USA, which fosters ongoing dialogue to raise awareness of the role pollinators play in our communities, and what each person can do to provide them with a healthy habitat.

All of their plans and goals are obtainable, Vachon said, because of the size and tight-knit nature of the MCLA community. “It allows for things to get done quickly, and everyone here is incredibly flexible and willing to do the work it will take to make this campaign a success.”