It's plain and simple: we need insect pollinators and monarch caterpillars for crop pollination. A decline in numbers for both have been detected for several years. The loss of native wildflower habitat near farmland is one of the big culprits.

The Sand County Foundation and Enel Green Power North America are offering High School ag and science educators the opportunity to apply for $1,000 grants to raise and transplant native wildflowers in rural areas. This offer is open to 20 Minnesota counties including Dodge, Steele, Rice and Waseca counties in Southern Minnesota.

Teachers will receive a training webinar, a consultation with a native plant nursery along with the $1,000 cash award paid to school districts or FFA chapters to offset project expenses. The successful applicants will receive around 600 seedlings of five native wildflower species in March. Students will then raise the plants in school greenhouse, transplant them in the spring and then maintain and monitor the plants through the summer.

The application deadline is January 18. Go to the Sand County Foundation web site to learn more and to apply.