By Rosemary Malfi, Massachusetts Pollinator Network Coordinator
After many months of preparation, fundraising, and community building, NOFA/Mass has officially launched the Massachusetts Pollinator Network (MAPN) as part of our Policy Department. MAPN is a statewide initiative to connect and support the growing number of communities, organizations, growers, and researchers working to protect pollinators and native plant communities across the Commonwealth. This effort builds on the momentum created by community organizers from the Berkshires to the coast.
Thanks to the generous financial contributions of more than 200 donors, we have raised enough money to support this program, and my new position as Pollinator Network Coordinator, through the end of the 2021 calendar year. I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you!
My name is Rosemary Malfi – I am coming to this position after spending the last 10+ years as a research scientist in the field of pollinator health, working to better understand and address threats facing bumble bee populations, such as disease, human land use, and seasonal food scarcity. Through my doctoral (University of Virginia, 2009-2015) and postdoctoral research experiences (UC Davis 2015-2018; UMass Amherst 2018-2021), I managed large-scale field projects on farmland, developed course curriculum in the sciences, and engaged with a range of audiences through education and outreach. My work has always been motivated by an interest in conservation, and I am very excited to be stepping into a role and organization that is dedicated to promoting healthy landscapes and food systems for people and wildlife alike.
Pollinators face many challenges, from habitat loss to pesticides, but there is a groundswell of public interest in protecting their populations and the ecosystem services they provide. The mission of the Massachusetts Pollinator Network is to expand native pollinator habitat and reduce pesticide use across the Commonwealth, and to continue education and outreach efforts to raise awareness about the actions, individually and collectively, we can each take to support pollinators. Toward these objectives, we will work to facilitate communications and build new partnerships among the many communities and organizations already working toward these goals and those just getting started in their efforts. We will also be working to curate and centralize informational and educational materials on a new website to ensure that activists and advocates have easy access to the resources they need to succeed in their efforts.
MAPN celebrated Pollinator Week 2021 (June 21-25) by hosting its official launch event on Tuesday June 22. The virtual launch, which featured speakers Peggy MacLeod of Western Mass Pollinator Networks, and Amy Meltzer, an active member of Grow Native Massachusetts, drew participants from across the state. Following this event, MAPN hosted the first speaker in its summer seminar series; Dr. Kathryn LeCroy joined Massachusetts residents virtually from the University of Virginia to share her research on declining native mason bees, a project fueled by the efforts of over 200 citizen scientist collaborators. At each event, there was great attendance and engagement signaling energy and momentum for the movement to protect pollinators.
Whether you are already working to support pollinators and insect biodiversity or are thinking about how to get involved for the first time, we invite you to learn more about MAPN and to stay updated about upcoming news and events. You can do so by visiting us at masspollinatornetwork.org and joining our email list using the sign up form. In the coming months, we will be offering educational seminars, hosting routine meetings for folks to exchange knowledge and ideas, and building a new website with curated resources on a variety of topics related to pollinator health and conservation. We hope you’ll join us!