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Utah Native Plant Society will host a presentation that spreads the importance of local pollinators

Sept. 23 event is free at the Summit County Library

 ‘Native Bees of Utah’ by Dr. Joseph Wilson 

  • When: 6:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 23
  • Where: The Summit County Library Kimball Junction Branch auditorium, 1885 W. Ute Blvd.
  • Cost: Free
  • Web: thesummitcountylibrary.org
Utah State University biologist Dr. Joseph Wilson, author of “The Bees in Your Backyard” and the children’s book “Bees are the Best!,” will introduce and discuss the importance of Utah’s native pollinators on Sept,. 23 at the Summit County Library Kimball Junction Branch. The event is presented by the Utah Native Plant Society Summit County chapter.
Courtesy of the Utah Native Plant Society Summit County chapter

The Summit County Library auditorium will be abuzz with a presentation about bees when the Utah Native Plant Society presents Dr. Joseph Wilson on Friday, Sept. 23.

Wilson, a Utah State University biologist and author of “The Bees in Your Backyard” and the children’s book “Bees are the Best!,” will introduce and discuss the importance of Utah’s native pollinators, said Kati Gyulassy, Utah Native Plant Society Summit County chapter president.

“We’re excited to have him,” she said. “As it turns out, we have one of the richest populations of native bees in the United States.”



Gyulassy first heard Wilson talk about bees during a Park City Garden Club meeting at the Park City Library in June.

We have one of the richest populations of native bees in the United States…” Kati Gyulassy, Utah Native Plant Society Summit County chapter president

“When I think of bees, I think of honeybees. But as I listened to his talk, I discovered there was such a diversity,” she said. “And then when I thought of ourselves as the Beehive State, it changed the perspective from the work-driven analogy to one of diversity.”



Bees are integral to the local ecosystem, Gyulassy said.

“They are the most important insects we know, and as we push more to xeriscaping and water-wise landscaping, we need to learn about what is available in terms of native, adaptive and water-wise planting solutions that is invaluable for water conservation and the support of these beloved creatures,” she said. “That also goes beyond insects, and includes animals and birds that migrate through our area. It all ties together.” 

Gyulassy reignited the Summit County chapter of the Utah Native Plant Society in February, after moving to Park City from the Bay Area in California two years ago.

“I was an active member and participant in the California Horticultural Society for over seven years, and when I came to Utah, I found that we didn’t really have a group like that,” she said. “I looked around, and it turned out the Utah Native Plant Society had not had an active chapter here for more than a decade. So I thought it was time to open it back up and allow organized programs that were educational.”

The Utah Native Plant Society (UNPS) helps fund student research on a University level for conservation and preservation of native and endemic plants. Gyuassy said.

Memberships are $15 per year, but memberships aren’t required to attend any of the Summit County chapter’s presentations, she said.

With the goal of presenting educational programs, Gyulassy approached the nonprofit’s board about putting back together a Summit County chapter.

“They encouraged me, and it turned out there are enough people who are interested from the get go,” she said. “We had 40 people show up to our first meeting, and I think it can grow into something bigger. I, personally, believe in the spirit of conservation and stewardship, and think the more people know about the local environment, they’ll care about its preservation.”

The Utah Native Plant Society is more than just an organization that loves indigenous and endemic plants, Gyulassy said.

“I try to introduce many different topics with our presentations,” she said. “I want to switch things up to make things interesting for folks who aren’t as plant obsessed.”

The first talk she organized since relaunching the Summit County chapter was about the geomorphology of the Wasatch.

The presentation was given by Professor Rick Ford from Weber State University, Gyulassy said.

“He came in and talked about how our soils were formed,” she said.

The next talk was about local wildflowers, Gyulassy said.

“That was done by Steve Hedji who wrote a book on flower identification called ‘Wasatch Wildflowers,’” she said.

Gyulassy got interested in conservation after seeing “The Private Life of Plants,” a documentary series by David Attenborough for the BBC.

“I think I was 6 when I saw it, and it inspired me,” she said. “Thanks to him this has been a hobby of mine, and I got involved with this in the Bay Area where I lived for more than a decade. And I’m looking forward to connecting with people who are interested in volunteering and helping find speakers and organizing our meetings.”


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