Bee Happy

Alumna used grant to create rooftop pollinator haven

Buzzing bees, thriving sustainable plants and pollinator enthusiasts enjoy the geography-geology building’s rooftop garden on the University of Georgia Athens campus thanks in part to College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences alumna Carson Dann (BSA – Agriscience and Environmental Systems, ’17).

For the past year, Dann, who was named a Nesbitt-Flatt Outstanding Senior in the college, dedicated her time to managing a pollinator conservation project. When she started, the rooftop garden was already well established, but she wanted to see it grow even more.

“First, I wanted to open it up to more of the community,” Dann said. “I wanted to get the word out, especially to the student body. The second (reason she wanted to see the garden expand) was pollinator conservation. I wrote the grant (application) to The Pollination Project and I received it. With the help of incredible community members and volunteers, we got the work done in a year.”

Soil, water, animals, sustainability and even air quality come back to food and human consumption, Dann said, adding that nearly 75 percent of crops use animal-mediated pollination. Pollinators are a crucial part of food production and environmental sustainability.

Dann used the grant she received from The Pollination Project to plant a pollinator garden along the edge of the rooftop using plants from the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. When these plants bloom, they attract pollinators.

“I am really amazed at the implications that smaller and seemingly insignificant things can have,” she said. “It’s a project of ‘I’m going to take these wildflower plants, put them on a roof, watch bugs come and invite people up to see them.’”

Now that she’s graduated, Dann has passed garden management on to Emma Courson, the urban agriculture intern for UGA’s Office of Sustainability.

Dann is proud of the work she accomplished, but warns that it’s easy to get discouraged when working in sustainability. She said this project is one small step toward making a true impact.

“What I’ve learned is that it’s the small things that make the greatest difference,” she said. “It’s those things coming together, not one person coming to save the world or one garden saving all the pollinators. It’s one gardener inspiring others.”

By Erica Cooke

As a CAES student, Carson Dann established a pollinator garden along the edge of the geography-geology building on UGA’s Athens campus.