NKU Awarded Duke Energy Foundation Environmental Grant


Dr. Denice Robertson and Dr. Kristy Hopfensperger are coordinating the Greater Cincinnati Pollinator Habitat Initiative grant funds.


Nov. 6, 2019— Northern Kentucky University recently received a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to support environmental efforts in southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky. 

The NKU Research Foundation was awarded $10,000 to fund the Greater Cincinnati Pollinator Habitat Initiative, a partnership with the Cincinnati Nature Center (CNC) and area schools to increase the pollinator habitats in the community. 

NKU and CNC are currently working with six schools this year, and the Duke grant will allow them to expand the program to six more schools in 2020. NKU’s Dr. Kristy Hopfensperger and Dr. Denice Robertson, faculty in the Biological Sciences Department, are coordinating the grant funds for the Greater Cincinnati Pollinator Habitat Initiative. 


Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, are responsible for helping produce about one third of the world-wide food supply for people by moving pollen from plant to plant resulting in pollination, which produces apples, almonds, and many other fruits and vegetables. Due to a loss of habitat, pollinators have been suffering from declining populations.

“This is a concern that we are all working to address. Our project establishes two plots of land at each school to set up native pollinator habitat. It’s a step to help reverse the decline in monarch and other pollinator populations,” said Dr. Robertson. “We also get to impact future scientist through our encouragement and support.”

With Dr. Robertson and Dr. Hopfensperger’s guidance, students will test the hypotheses on what leads to successful pollinator habitat restoration. NKU has three seed mixes that will be tested in the research. 

“We assign each plot to a seed mix. Middle and high school students work with us and our undergraduate research students at NKU to set up the plots.  Beginning this spring, we can start collecting data,” said Dr. Hopfensperger. “Our project is all about collaboration among area schools, the CNC and NKU scientists, and the Duke grant furthers this initiative.”


Duke Energy Foundation awarded $250,000 in grants to 16 local environmental agencies– including the NKU Research Foundation– to fund clean water, wetlands protection and other conservation projects. The Duke Energy Foundation’s Powerful Communities program makes strategic investments to build powerful communities where our natural resources thrive, students can excel, and a talented workforce drives economic prosperity for all.

“Duke Energy continues to be an industry leader in moving toward a cleaner energy future to power our customers’ lives,” said Amy Spiller, Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky president. “We’re committed to the environment and will do our part to recognize programs that advance this mission.”

Five Ohio schools and one Kentucky school are currently participating in the Initiative: Cincinnati Christian, Cincinnati Country Day, Milford Middle and High Schools, Scott High School, St. Xavier High School and West Clermont High School. For more information on the Greater Cincinnati Pollinator Habitat Initiative, contact Dr. Denice Robertson at robertsonde@nku.edu or Dr. Kristy Hopfensperger at hopfenspek1@nku.edu.

About The Duke Energy Foundation: The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy customers live and work. The foundation contributes more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts, and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars. The foundation also supports environmental projects and community impact initiatives, including arts and culture. Duke Energy employees and retirees actively contribute to their communities as volunteers and leaders with a wide variety of nonprofit organizations. Duke Energy is committed to building on its legacy of community service. More information about the foundation and its Powerful Communities program can be found at duke-energy.com/foundation.

About NKU: Founded in 1968, we are a growing metropolitan university of more than 14,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus near Cincinnati. Located in the quiet suburb of Highland Heights, Kentucky—just seven miles southeast of Cincinnati—we have become a leader in Greater Cincinnati and Kentucky by providing a private school education for a fraction of the cost. While we are one of the fastest growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit nku.edu.