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Main Street Waterloo (MSW) partnered with Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area (SSNHA) to improve the habitat for pollinators in downtown Waterloo.

“Pollinators are important because without them we would live in a world with less plants to be used for food and clothing,” said Laura Elfers, Silos & Smokestacks Educational Engagement Director. “Pollinators are needed to transfer pollen from one plant to another to produce seeds.”

Ten street corner planters are filled with a variety of flowers that offer pollinator insects an alternative food source. Plants include Zinnias, Salvia, Lantana, Alyssum, Moss roses, Calibrachoa, and Butterfly weed.

“The variety of flowers being used are commonly found in area greenhouses,” said Elfers. “We wanted to have examples so people could see they could do this at home, too.”

According to Elfers, the flowers used were chosen because they come in a multitude of different colors. Some insects prefer a certain color over others. Having multiple colors will benefit more than one species of pollinator. Height also comes in to play with some pollinator insects. These plants range in height from four inches to 24 inches tall. Some pollinators would rather be close to the ground while feeding while others like to be high and have a large open flower to provide a “landing strip.” MSW and SSNHA had help planting the flowers.

Fifty-eight 2nd graders from Cedar Valley Catholic Schools (CVCS) joined the two organizations to plant the flowers. CVCS made the pollinator project its annual 2nd grade community service project.

SSNHA is one of 49 federally designated heritage areas in the nation and is an Affiliated Area of the National Park Service. The Heritage Area covers 37 counties in central and northeast Iowa. Through a network of sites, programs and events, SSNHA interprets farm life, agribusiness, and rural communities—past and present.


On May 22, 2019 students from the Cedar Valley
Catholic Schools helped beautify downtown Waterloo.

The Cedar Valley Catholic Schools, Main Street Waterloo, and Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, teamed up for this project. They planted flowers in ten corner planters along East 4th Street. The goal is to make downtown Waterloo a better place for pollinator insects, like bees and butterflies.

Cara Miller, the executive director of Silos and Smokestacks, says this is important because pollinators need habitats in cities, as well as rural areas. She says bee and butterfly populations are also diminishing, so they are taking this on as part of their heritage-area responsibilities.

For the Cedar Valley Catholic School 2nd graders, they helped plant the flowers today as part of their community service project. Showing kids how to step outside the classroom and care for our environment.


This is a great place to tell your story and give people more insight into who you are, what you do, and why it’s all about you.


This is a great place to tell your story and give people more insight into who you are, what you do, and why it’s all about you.

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