Macon County Conservation District Explore the Outdoors
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Ideas for Living Green in Macon County, Illinois

Vital to Life on Earth but Often Unseen by the Human Eye

Most of us carry on with our days without too much thought or consideration as to what is going on around us. But can you imagine what life would be like without your morning coffee? To no longer have the opportunity to smell a fresh flower? Or to never again enjoy the rich taste of pumpkin or the sweet taste of a watermelon?

Whether we acknowledge it or not, pollination, the transfer of pollen from one flower to another, is critical to fruit and seed production and is often provided by pollinators such as bees, beetles, birds, bats and butterflies.

“It is pretty incredible to wrap your head around the idea that nature invented pollination to survive.” Macon County Conservation District Program Services Manager Jeff Tish said. “Their existence is to keep life moving forward.”

Pollinators play a key part in our quality of life and the stability of our ecosystem. Unfortunately, due to habitat loss, disease, environmental changes and excessive and misuse of pesticides the population of pollinators is declining.

American honeybees alone, which pollinate more than 90 commercial crops in the United States, have dropped by more than 30 percent in the last 20 years. The decline is so significant that some scientists believe it is the biggest crisis we face today.

Pollination plays a key part to life on Earth but often goes unseen by the human eye. While the majority of us can appreciate the beauty of nature, many of us have no idea how much a part of it we really are.

Over 75% of the world’s flowering plants depend on pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds, beetles and butterflies to reproduce. These plant species account for one third of our diets in addition to medicine, fabric, even chocolate and coffee.

Many of these plants are crucial to world agriculture. Pollinators increase the quality and quantity of over 90 crops including apples, blueberries and cucumbers by up to 30%. Without the existence of these pollinators fruits and vegetables would become scarce, prohibitively expensive or in some cases even extinct.

“Pollination is remarkable in demonstrating exactly how connected we are to the world around us.” Macon County Conservation District Executive Director Kathy Merner said. “The extinction of pollinators would not just cause the human race to suffer but birds and small mammals who survive on berries and seeds would starve along with the omnivores and carnivores that continue up the food chain.”

“Nothing lasts forever.” Merner said. “We encourage people to stop and notice the wonder of nature, learn about the world around them, create a butterfly garden, start recycling, and support and treasure your natural areas.”

Attract Pollinators to Your Garden

One easy and effective way to protect pollinators in your area is to provide the habitat and nutrition they need to survive in your backyard, school or workplace. Check out these suggestions on how to create a pollinator garden.

  • Aim to create a habitat for pollinators that provides adequate food, shelter and water sources
  • Choose a variety of plants that will provide nectar and pollen throughout the growing season
  • Incorporate a variety of colors, sizes and smells to attract different pollinators
  • Choose native plants to support the needs of specific native pollinators while also protecting and conserving your natural areas
  • Resist the urge to have an overly manicured lawn and garden. Bare ground is great nesting for bees while leaves and dead wood provide shelter for a variety of insects
  • Strive to eliminate all pesticides

Attracting Butterflies

Butterflies are attracted to bright flowers, including reds and purples with a wide landing platform. They need water sources, open areas exposed to full sun and moist soil to get needed minerals. incorporate eastern redbud and sumac trees, wild columbine, common and prairie milkweed, tickseed, purple coneflowers, boneset, sunflowers, blazing stars, cardinal flowers, gray-headed coneflowers and aster.

Attracting Birds

Hummingbirds play the primary role of pollination for birds in North America. They enjoy warmer climates and are attracted to bright colored tubular flowers with shades of scarlet, orange, red or white. Trumpet vine or creeper, phlox, evening primrose, horsemint, lupine, Michigan lily,butterfly weed and wild columbine all can attract hummingbirds to your garden.

Attracting Bees

In general, bees are typically attracted to bright white, yellow or blue colors. They need flowers that are shallow, have a landing platform and are tubular. They are often attracted to fresh, mild and pleasant odors. Try incorporating maple and willow trees, wild roses, blackberry and raspberries, thimbleweed, swamp milkweed, prairie clover, purple coneflowers, gentians, sunflowers, blazing star, cardinal flowers, goldenrod and violets.

See this story and more in the latest issue of the Prairie Islander, Macon County Conservation District's quarterly newsletter.

Join Us in Living Greener
Find "Green" Macon County Conservation District events for the entire family on our Events page.

Green Picnic Ideas

  • Bring only what is needed.
  • Carpool or share a ride
  • Use reusable tableware. If using disposable tableware, purchase products made from recyclable items. Look for this symbol – (recycling symbol)
  • Purchase food in recyclable or reusable packaging
  • When throwing items away, separate your plastic and aluminum recyclables
  • Throw food in the trash; don’t throw it into the lawn or woods. It can be harmful to wildlife
  • Leave the site for others to enjoy
  • Plan activities with green themes


Green Tips
Incorporate some of our Green Tips into your daily life to care for the earth and reduce your impact on the earth's resources.

Phosphate-Free Laundry Detergents
Reduce your impact by purchasing only detergents made without phosphates.
Make the Plastic Bag History
Take a reusable shopping bag with you when you shop.
Local Farmer's Market in Decatur, IL
Plan a visit to the Decatur, Illinois Central Park farmer's market and load up your reusable bag with the freshest produce and goods.
Fluorescent Lights Myth
To help save energy, turn your lights off if you'll be out of the room.
Green Children's Activities
Here are some ways to get your kids involved in taking better are of their earth.
Reduce Paper Use
Reducing the amount of paper we use and reusing paper is good for the environment.
Bathroom Water Conservation
A few tips for the bathroom that you can easily adopt to use only the water you need and not be wasteful of this valuable resource.
Pack an Eco-Friendly Lunch
Make an eco-lunch.

Today's Sunrise Sunset in Decatur, IL:
    Sunrise is at: 5:35 AM
    Sunset is at: 8:10 PM

What can you do at the Nature Center?

Visit Our Conservation Areas

Rock Springs Conservation Area
Friends Creek Conservation Area
Sand Creek Conservation Area
Griswold Conservation Area
Fort Daniel Conservation Area



The Macon County Conservation District invites you to visit the many natural areas in Macon County, Illinois, including Rock Springs Nature Center, which offers nature programs, special activities, nature hikes, summer camps, music programs, conference rooms for all ages throughout the year in Decatur, Illinois.
Macon County Conservation District
3939 Nearing Lane
Decatur, IL 62521
(217) 423-7708

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The Prairie Islander

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