UVM Extension debuts pollinator program
BURLINGTON — Pollinators are essential to the production of many food crops, including apples, blueberries, brambles and many vegetables in Vermont. Although honeybees and several other wild and domesticated pollinators are at risk or in decline, by adopting different agricultural and cultural practices, farmers and other landowners can help ensure pollinator health.
To support pollinators on farms and in managed landscapes, University of Vermont (UVM) Extension has created an applied research and education pollinator program and a new Extension pollinator support specialist position, which will be filled by Laura Johnson. The work will be funded primarily through grants and gifts, including a $5,000 donation from the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers Association’s board of directors.
In her new role, Johnson will collaborate with existing UVM programs and statewide partners to promote best practices for pollinator health in agriculture in the state and region. This effort will collect and disseminate practical information for farmers while also addressing information gaps through on-farm research. The focus will be on supporting the well-being of pollinators in the context of other farm health goals, such as integrated pest management, soil and water quality and climate change resilience.
Johnson, who will be based in the UVM Extension office in Berlin, has a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from St. Lawrence University and a master’s degree in horticulture from New Mexico State University. She is a Certified Crop Advisor and beekeeper and holds a Vermont pesticide applicator license.
For more than two years, she also served as an agriculture extension volunteer in the Peace Corps in Paraguay. Johnson is not new to UVM Extension, having started with the Migrant Education program in 2017 before moving to an agronomy outreach role with the UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
For more information about the pollinator program, go to www.uvm.edu/extension/pollinator- resources or contact Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org. To make a donation to support this work, visit https://go.uvm.edu/ pollinator-fund.