Behind the Turner Foundation’s Relationship with Bugs

Most people, when they think of bugs, conjure images of creepy crawlies lurking in the dark. However, not all bugs are pests and some of them we rely on a great deal. In fact, much of our agriculture and landscape depend on bugs to do their job. Yet in our quest to kill off bugs, we’re slowly hurting ourselves - as pesticides, habitat loss, and disease kill off the bees and butterflies we need so much. The Turner Foundation (see IP’s Profile) is trying to halt the loss of these important pollinators by supporting the work of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

The Xerces Society focuses solely on the conservation of invertebrates – animals without a backbone such as worms, beetles, mussels, and starfish. These creatures may not seem like much and they are often forgotten by society at large, but they do provide important services to humanity. The Xerces Society thus runs several projects focusing on endangered invertebrate species, aquatic conservation, pesticide use, and citizen science. They also run the Bring Back the Pollinators Campaign, which the Turner Foundation lists as a Featured Grantee under the ‘Passions’ tab of their website. This is perhaps understandable considering how much people have to lose with the loss of pollinators such as bees and butterflies. These bugs are responsible for pollinating over one hundred different crop types throughout the US and are estimated to provide $3 billion per year to the US economy. Bees and butterflies have not only an intrinsic value based on their beauty and innate worth — they are also important workers necessary for a functioning economy.

The Bring Back the Pollinators Campaign helps farmers restore pollinator habitat and adopt “bee-friendly practices”. The campaign offers training to thousands of farmers, US Department of Agriculture staff, and state agencies each year. The Turner Foundation has been supporting this campaign through the Xerces Society for several years now -- along with other funders, including the Bullitt Foundation, the Cornell Douglas Foundation, the Maki Foundation, and a number of corporations.