The Pollination Selfie Station

If you are in search of an exciting hands-on way to entice the public to interact with your pollinator-themed outreach booth, look no further than the Pollination Selfie Station.

The Ashman Lab outreach team from University of Pittsburgh

This idea was developed after creating a giant flower prop for a video project and first rolled out during this year’s Phipps Conservatory BioBlitz 2019 event in Pittsburgh, PA. (Learn more about the event and the results of the BioBlitz here – 146 species of plants, animals, and fungi were identified in the adjacent park!)

The goal of the Pollination Selfie Station is to communicate to the public that bees are not the only animals that participate in pollination while providing people with a fun and memorable photo to share online and keep the conversation going. Also, at bigger outreach events with many presenters, it is sometimes difficult to stand out from the crowd. The Pollination Selfie Station was a fantastic hook that naturally segued the more curious folks towards our table that featured displays about floral microbes, real pinned insect pollinators, and floral UV patterns.

The giant flower prop (inspired by my study species Helianthus tuberosus, a wild sunflower with the common name Jerusalem Artichoke) was created using salvaged household materials, common craft supplies, and mountains of hot glue.

Petals made from craft foam and felt were glued to a base made of a foam half-circle covered in felt. Anthers made from pipe cleaners and pom poms and a stigma made from several twisted pipe cleaners were attached at the center. The base of the flower where the green foam and felt phyllaries are attached was made from the cut and inverted top of a 2 liter soda bottle attached to a wooden dowel wrapped with more foam for a stem.

I also made several pollinator props that allowed people to dress up as human-sized pollinators with the giant flower.

Fly Glasses

These compound eyes were made using craft foam, sequins, and old sunglasses. I made one adult-sized pair and one-child sized pair.


These were made using cheap headbands and pipe cleaners. Both the antennae and the fly glasses were used to talk about non-bee insect pollinators such as flies, wasps, beetles, and ants.

Butterfly and flower headband

These were a lucky find at a local dollar store.


Bird bill hat

This was made using a hat, foam triangles, and a thrifted feather hairpiece. People were most surprised to learn that birds were pollinators.

All in all, the Pollination Selfie Station was an incredibly fun way to interact with passersby and strike up a conversation about pollinators. Search #PollinatorPose on Twitter to see all of the pictures from the event.

Would you try creating your own selfie station at your next outreach event? Have any suggestions on how to expand our pollinator prop bucket? Leave a comment below!


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