Posted by Carrie Fenn on Jan 22, 2020
President Keith thanks Michael Kiernan, M.D. for his informative talk about pollinators and their threatened habitat.

January 22, 2020
Charlotte Shelburne Hinesburg Rotary Club Trinity Episcopal Church, Shelburne

Keith called the meeting to order at 7:30 and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Our guest and speaker is Michael Kiernan, from Bee the Change.

Next board meeting will Thursday January 30th at 7:30 in the Trinity Room.

Linda Barker was the recipient of a Paul Harris Fellow Award today, but Keith doesn’t know what for. Let’s find out!

Elections will take place this month.
Chris Davis will be President
Susan Grimes is President elect
Margo Casco will continue on as Treasurer
We need nominations for Vice President and Secretary

Secretary takes the minutes, keeps track of the attendance and reports to the Rotary International.
Vice President is more of a training position- goes to training conferences to prepare for the President Elect position. Be prepared to nominate yourself or someone else!

Speech contest needs a date- Vergennes Rotary is under the impression we are not sending a speech competitor to the semi-final so we need to let the Assistant Governor know we are having a contest.

  • Coordinate a location- week of February 11. Roz to follow up with the library

  • Chris, Carrie, Roz to reach out to our area schools

    Shelburne Winterfest is happening this Saturday- we’ll be managing the snowshoe handouts. Meet Saturday at 9:30 at the Field House to volunteer.

    Michael Kiernan joined us to share his knowledge of the importance of pollinatorsHe has two young beautiful daughters that are out in the world and a lovely wife, Tawnya. Mike is an emergency physician at the Porter Hospital, professor at Middlebury College in Yunan, China, and founder of Bee the Change, a non profit works to save pollinators by repurposing unused space in solar fields.

    Mike: We see ourselves in the large, charismatic mammals of the world. We don’t associate with insects, and when we do think of them we consider them pests. In Yunan, they are adding 100% agricultural productivity every 8 and a half years. They are pollinating by hand because of the lack of natural pollinators. Almost 100% of vanilla beans are pollinated by hand. Vanilla blooms one day every year and is hand pollinated. In California, they lost their native pollinators because of hundreds of acres of monocultures- the bees can’t survive on 2 weeks of feed time

each year. 2 million honey bee hives go to California and we lose 30% of those hives each year due to viruses and diseases. Honey bees are not the solution to our pollinator crisis because they are not sustainable.

Bumblebees have a remarkable and fragile life style. We had 17 species of bumblebees 25 years ago, but we are now down to 10 species, an extraordinary rate of species loss. 74% of our diet are pollinator dependent. IPBBS UN report May of 2019 called the alarm on the crisis of species loss, calling the 20th century the “6th Extinction.” The 20th century was exceptional in that we saw the world’s population double in a single lifetime. We are adding 1 billion people to our planet every 12 years. Humanity is poised to experience a severe threat to our species due to food shortages, and pollinators are a keystone species to our food supply.

Mike started pollinating solar fields to create working landscapes that are lost when solar is installed. He starts by evaluating the field before the solar is installed to count pollinators. Most fields will have 30 pollinators or less. By the end of year 3 we can see 175 to 320 pollinators in 15 minutes.

The biggest lift for these projects is to get clean soil; for example we first need to get rid of the poisonous parsnip which takes three years to knock back. If the management is successful the pollinator project will be self-sustaining. GMP has been planting native flowering tree species to screen the solar fields. Front edge of the solar installation defines Mike’s life- the height of that edge determines the size of the species that can be planted to avoid mowing.

Although we could have listened to Mike educate us for hours regarding pollinators and bumblebees, sadly our time came to an end. If you’d like to learn more about Mike and Tawnya’s project, go to

Keith presented Mike with the book “bee friendly” to be donated to one of our local libraries. See you next week!

Respectfully submitted, Carrie Fenn