The ‘Our Pollinators’ boxed mural, designed and painted by students, was part of the Hillsborough Soil & Water Conservation District’s 1,800 sq. ft. exhibit at the Florida State Fair. (Photo courtesy of Linda Chion.)

By Linda Chion

At the forefront of Rotary International’s Operation Pollination initiative is the Hillsborough Soil & Water Conservation District (HSWCD) and Rotary Club of Brandon Global Eco, which together have signed a pledge to conduct one or more projects benefiting pollinators over the next two years.

The Brandon club, formerly known as the Rotary Club of Brandon South, adopted its new name after Rotary International adopted protecting the environment as its seventh focus area. To receive Rotary grants, projects must be affiliated with one of its focus areas, which include as well promoting peace, fighting disease, saving mothers and children, supporting education, growing local economies and providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene.

The focus on bees, bats, birds and butterflies, along with other pollinators, is a critical endeavor, given that 75 percent of the approximately 1,330 crop plants grown worldwide for food, fiber and medicines are pollinated by such animals and insects, according to the Operation Pollination pledge signed by HSWCD and Rotary representatives.

Operation Pollination is open to individuals, families, schools, businesses, civic and youth groups, nonprofits and government entities seeking to create, develop and execute community-based projects of their own. HSWCD invites people to do so along with an “action awareness project” through its Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge, which in April kicked off its fifth year.

“When you realize the population of the monarch butterfly dropped more than 80 percent over the past 20 years, and that the nation’s bee count dropped 45.5 percent between April 2020 and April 2021, it’s very clear we have a very serious problem that impacts every single person,” said Betty Jo Tompkins, HSWCD’s executive director.

Tompkins also is a Rotary Club of Brandon Global Eco member, whose president, Mike Meegan, spearheads his club’s Operation Pollination efforts. His wife, Debbie Meegan, past president of the Rotary Club of Brandon, is set to become Rotary’s District 6890 governor in 2022-23, a role Tompkins filled in 2001-02.

For more information, visit and You can contact Tompkins at 813-477-8332 and Visit Rotary Club of Brandon Global Eco on Facebook @BrandonGlobalEco. The club meets 6 p.m. virtually on the second and fourth Monday of the month.

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