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Our student led farm, the Eco Hub, gives students the opportunity to experience and learn how to grow food as well as provide a service to those in need. The food produced by the Eco Hub will be donated to our campus food pantry, the Comet Cupboard, as well as the North Texas Food Bank. Through this initiative, students will form a community with each other and learn how to lead projects that create and contribute to the world around them. The Eco Hub can host more than 60 volunteers at a time. Student volunteers work in groups to plant and maintain their plots as a team. Eco Reps from the UT Dallas Office of Sustainability lead bi-monthly workdays during which all student volunteers are invited to work together on their plots while receiving support from the Eco Reps.
Another learning opportunity that the Eco Hub presents is that of pollinator education. Our goal as a member of Bee Campus USA is to create advocates for pollinators through student engagement. One of the primary ways we aim to accomplish this goal is to offer service-learning events at our apiary. These events excite students and give them the opportunity to experience something they might never have been able to otherwise. There is so much eagerness to learn about the bees that we plan on installing an additional apiary at the Eco Hub. This additional apiary will open more opportunities for students to interact with local pollinators. The new apiary is necessary to support the high volume of student interest that is flourishing across campus.
Events that we will host at the apiary include frame collection and hive inspections, among other opportunities. During a frame collection, students will remove frames of honey from the hives to be crushed and bottled. They will also learn about bee behaviors, how honey is made and how pollinators are crucial to our way of life. Hive inspections will give students the chance to see inside the hives where larvae are being created. During a hive inspection, students will learn how to assess the general health of a beehive and diagnose what causes may contribute to the decline of bee populations. They will do this by removing and examining frames from the lower brood boxes of our beehives. As the new apiary is installed, we plan to broaden the scope of our impact beyond just our beehives. Students will be invited to help create homes for other pollinators through milkweed plantings for monarchs, nest buildings for solitary bees and native flower plantings across campus. Each of these events will inspire students by showing them that there is so much we can do together to protect and encourage pollinators.
The Eco Hub and apiaries have given UT Dallas a chance to become a leader in sustainability initiatives. We would like to see that leadership continue to grow throughout our student population, and one of the best ways to do this is by offering and expanding these unique service-learning events.”