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Dar Williams, pollinators and kids

By Anya Tikka
August 20, 2014

“The Woodstock Festival that happened here had a lot of dreamers,” said Dar Williams, a Hudson Valley singer and songwriter, at the start of her educational program for kids about the importance of helping bees and other pollinators at Bethel Woods Conservatory on August 14, before the 45th Woodstock anniversary weekend. She continued that first-you-have-to-dream-and-then-make-it-happen philosophy, singing “Wake Up and Move Your Body Around” and getting the kids who were attending a summer camp up dancing.

Her show, “Give Bees a Camp,” included songs, dancing and little stories to get through to kids her mission about the importance of protecting the environment and especially pollinators that are threatened by disease the world over. “There are 4,000 different kinds of bees around, and that’s not even including the bats, wasps and butterflies, all kinds of different pollinators. They are all wonderful. They don’t want to sting you—but don’t drink soda outdoors because they love it,” she told the kids.

Kids who took part in the program were asked to sign a ‘Pollinator Pledge’ to protect bees by looking after them, by growing flowers for them, by not using a lot of chemicals, and by spreading the word to friends.

“Protecting them is just protecting the flowers, and looking after them is spreading the word to our friends,” Williams reiterated.

At the end of her program, packets of seeds were passed to the kids, and they were asked to plant them in a patch somewhere. “Everywhere you plant them, there will be another patch, and there will be a string of plants from Canada all the way to Mexico,” Dar explained, referring to the program she’s done all over America. “Maybe tell your parents,” she also said, “as part of planting the seeds of change.”

The conservatory planted a specially designed pollinator garden for the event. Devin Jardine, a landscape architecture student said, “The majority of the plants there bring pollinators in, and include black-eyed Susans, blueberries, strawberries, cucumbers, chick seed, bee balm and butterfly weed.”

Grounds superintendant, Greg Lotorto commented, “The idea is not just a pretty garden; it’s a functional garden. And to bring it to the kids as an educational tool.”

“There are some things I think kids are meant to do. They go home and they tell their parents. They love flowers and they bring that message home to their parents. It’s a better message even than we should recycle, a more fun thing for them to bring home from the camps,” Williams said after her show.