Durham College teams up to protect bees

By Leah Drewette, second-year Public Relations student and brand ambassador, FastStartDC

Named a BeeCity for a third consecutive year, the City of Oshawa and its branch of education and research partners, TeachingCity, worked with Durham College (DC) to raise awareness and empower social action to support and protect pollinators.TeachingCity collaborates in applied research and experiential learning to tackle urban issues affecting the City of Oshawa. As an education partner of TeachingCity, DC rallied its interdisciplinary team of faculty members from the School of Science & Engineering Technology (SET), students from the Architectural Technology and Environmental Technology programs and the college’s entrepreneurship centre, FastStartDC, to investigate the impacts of introducing an urban beekeeping program in Oshawa and deliver an awareness campaign on the importance of pollinators.

It was the perfect opportunity for FastStartDC’s student team to help achieve the city’s goals of advancing its Bee City designation. Social enterprise and EnactusDC project 3eeHive supported the initiative by running the campaign through their platforms. As strong advocates for pollinator habitat restoration, 3eehive sells branded apparel equipped with plantable paper tags that feature wildflower seeds for consumers to plant in their own backyards. The team’s work was celebrated at the 2021 Oshawa Peony Festival, held virtually for the second year in a row from June 1 to June 27.

With the support of FastStartDC, DC students developed and executed a digital marketing campaign to raise awareness among Oshawa citizens on the importance of pollinators and what you can do to help. The campaign also included hand-delivering wild-flower seed packets to Oshawa residents, encouraging Oshawa residents to sign the Pollinator Pledge and producing a video for the Oshawa Peony Festival.

The video, produced by Meagan Secord, a FastStartDC work-study student from the college’s Photography program, offers interesting facts and presents fun and informative quizzes pertaining to plants and pollinators and highlights the efforts of individuals and groups, including the Oshawa Garden Club, local biologists and private business owners who are all doing their part.

“The experience from the very start has been incredible,” said Cullen Smith, an Entrepreneurship and Small Business program student researcher at Durham College. “It is a joy to work with such talented, passionate and motivated people.”

With 25 DC students involved in the project, the digital campaign boasted an online community reach of 17,000 people and 1,100 “likes.” The research and literature review aspects of the project will help to guide policy in the city with respect to urban beekeeping.

“I am grateful to have worked on a project of this nature,” shared Shane Kenyon, a DC student enrolled in Environmental Technology program. “I have learned a lot about what we can do as citizens to help encourage conservation.”

To hear testimonials from DC students involved with the project, view the TeachingCity – Bee City Challenges: Urban Bee Keeping and Pollinator Campaign video.

For more information about TeachingCity Oshawa initiatives, view the 2020/2021 Progress Report.