Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Kim Samuelson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Passion for pollinators leads to SWCD recognition


February 7, 2019

Provided Photo

Terry and Vicki Anderson (on left and center) with their award "garden stone" presented by Jim Nynas, SWCD supervisor.

For many of us, life sometimes becomes mere survival. We feel that each day is like the one before...going to work to make the money to pay the bills that enable us to live and be able to go to work to make the money to pay the bills. Over and over, ad infinitum.

However, there are also many people who have found their passion, something that makes each day a wonderful day to wake up and go to work. And for some of these people, compassion has led to their passion. This is the case for Dr. Vicki and Terry Anderson, of Cloquet, who were bestowed the 2018 Outstanding Pollinator Habitat award by the Carlton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).

In the Anderson's case, their passion came from compassion for some of the world's smallest their case, pollinators, like wild and tame bees, beetles, butterflies, moths, flies, birds. Pollinators are the animals that carry pollen from the male to the female parts of flowering plants. They are very essential in the natural and agriculture ecosystems. Without pollinators, most vegetable, fruit, flower, grass, and seed plants would not be able to live and produce products we depend on, like food, herbs, medicines, etc. Without pollinators, we would all have a literal fight for survival.

Through the last few decades, the numbers of pollinators have decreased quite a bit, according to scientists who have been monitoring the situation around the world. In fact, some recent studies show that beekeepers in the U.S. have lost 30-42% of their bee colonies every year since 2006. Those numbers are astounding and deeply disturbing!

The biggest causes for decreases in pollinators are exposure to parasites and pesticides and loss of abundance and diversity of habitat. While we may not individually be able to stop the parasites and pesticides, we can each surely plant gardens to increase pollinator habitat.

And that is just what the Andersons have been and are doing. As a result of their compassion and passion, they have set out to increase pollinator habitat everywhere and anywhere they can, and they have also sought to reach out to teach, encourage, and help others to plant pollinator gardens where they can, too.

The Anderson's passion started in 1976 when they purchased their Cloquet home and property that was overrun with buckthorn, sumac, box elder, and trash. Through the years, they cleaned up the property, pulled out the invasive species, and turned that property into a "diverse, healthy native plant habitat for pollinators," according to Kelly Smith, Forestry Technician with Carlton SWCD.

Then they turned to developing pollinator habitat on the grounds of their church, Zion Lutheran Church in Cloquet. They started in 1994 by planting 28 apple trees of several varieties. These have been maintained and provide excellent habitat for pollinators. In addition, in 2012, the Andersons started working with the fifth grade Sunday School class to develop and plant a 2,500 square foot wild flower garden adjacent to the orchard area. They tried to balance native plants with non-natives plants as a "wide variety of plants support a wide variety of pollinators," said Smith who also added that "a diverse mix (of plants) is more resilient to drought, disease, and other problems."

Through the years, the garden, with its 33 species of flowers and grasses, has thrived and started to flourish, mostly thanks to the work the Andersons have put in with help from adults and children of the church and community. They manually weed the gardens, control invasive species, and collect seeds for replanting and passing on to others to plant.

In 2017, the Andersons spread their teaching even further. They teamed up with the Carlton SWCD and the Kettle River Woodland Council to share their passion for pollinators by hosting a tour of the gardens at the church and their home. Smith reported that "there are many ways landowners, large and small, can promote pollinators," as he and the Andersons presented information about "how to establish a native plant habitat for pollinators via do-it-yourself or hired-out methods," as well as information about "planning and funding assistance available."

Provided Photo

Vicki Anderson (in white coat second from right) leading a tour group through her pollinator habitat garden.

The Andersons show others that each season brings something to anticipate, something to fuel their passion. As Smith so beautifully and poetically expressed, "Each season brings something to anticipate. They are blest with a plethora of bees throughout the growing season. Shrubs like cotoneaster vibrate with activity when they blossom in early spring. Shrub roses, dogwoods, blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons, thimbleberry, nannyberry, gooseberry, serviceberry and elderberry provide early spring food for pollinators. Later, bee balm, coneflowers, milk weeds, echinacea, joy pye weed, heliopsis, rudbeckia, golden alexanders, penstemon, roses, hydrangea, lupine, false indigo and many others attract beneficial insects, bees and neighborhood children. Woody pollinator plants include viburnum, forsythia, lilac, chokecherry, willow, burning bush and maple. Their shrub roses have rose hips that are enjoyed by birds all winter. They don't clean up their gardens until spring as who knows what goes on amongst the dry garden plants in winter."

Along the way and through the years, the Andersons have taught children and adults about gardening, wild flowers, and well as life, compassion, and passion. This is why we thank Vicki and Terry Anderson for their many years of work on behalf of pollinators and why we bestowed on them the 2018 Outstanding Pollinator Habitat award. May each of us catch their passion and work to help pollinators in our own little corners of the world, too!

Kim Samuelson is Carlton SWCD's elected supervisor for District 4. For more information about pollinators, establishing a pollinator habitat, and the annual Conservation Awards program, contact Carlton SWCD at 218-384-3891. You can also find more information about Carlton SWCD on Facebook or on their website at


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