ST. LOUIS (September 21, 2020) – To commemorate National Honey Month, Bayer today announced its 2020 Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award winners, recognizing three next generation leaders committed to supporting pollinator health. The winners are: Keith Griffith III of Louisville, Ky. (first place); Emma Stevens of Greenup, Ky. (second place); and Lydia Cox of Charleston, S.C. (third place). The first-place winner will receive $3,000 to put toward his beekeeping projects or college tuition, and the second- and third-place winners will also receive $2,000 and $1,000, respectively.
A panel of five industry experts chose the winners from a pool representing 14 states based on the applicants’ demonstrated commitment to promoting honey bee and pollinator health in their schools and communities, as well as their dedication to continued learning and service within the field. The judging panel for the 2020 Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award included:
- Joan Gunter, president, American Beekeeping Federation
- Aimee Hood, regulatory and scientific engagement lead, Crop Science, a division of Bayer
- Brandon Hopkins, Ph.D., assistant research professor, apiary and laboratory manager, Washington State University
- Grace Kunkel, communications coordinator, Project Apis m.
- Jake Reisdorf, first-ever Young Beekeeper Award winner and 2019 Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award recipient; CEO, Carmel Honey Company
“It’s incredibly important for the industry to recognize the hard work and dedication of these young beekeepers, and to encourage my generation to get involved in STEM- and agriculture-related activities that help sustain our global food supply,” said Reisdorf. “I was proud to read about everything these next-gen leaders are doing to support bees and amazed at how many of them are getting out in their communities to educate others about the importance of pollinators.”
Each of the 2020 Blue Ribbon Beekeepers impressed the judges with their creative and impactful projects to benefit pollinators and further community education, including:
- Keith Griffith III, 13, of Louisville, Ky.
Keith has been working as a beekeeper with his uncle since he was 11. What started as a therapeutic outlet soon became more than just a hobby; it’s also enabled him to start a business, Beeing2gether, where he sells honey, branded merchandise and a book he published in 2019, “Honey Bees and Beekeeping: A Mental Health Miracle.” Since writing his book, Keith has been featured on local Louisville television shows to raise awareness about the importance of honey bees and how beekeeping can provide an outlet for those suffering from mental illness. In the future, Keith hopes to expand his business and build a rooftop apiary where he can provide hands-on educational experiences for students and community members looking to learn more about beekeeping.
- Emma Stevens, 16, of Greenup, Ky.
Emma is deeply committed to educating her community about the importance of pollinators. Through her high school agriculture department, she volunteers with local elementary school junior bee clubs to teach younger students about beekeeping. Emma serves as her high school’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) vice president, where she provides educational information to local farmers and other community members on the impacts of honey bees. In the future, Emma hopes to start a bee club at her high school, conduct a three-day junior bee camp for students in second through sixth grades, and organize a STEM Day for her district’s four elementary schools, with local high school students leading hands-on science, technology, engineering and math activities.
- Lydia Cox, 17, of Charleston, S.C.
A fourth-generation beekeeper, Lydia has been keeping bees since she was 7 years old and works with her family to sell honey as a way to raise money for college. Outside of the family business, Lydia volunteers with local community groups to help preserve environmental resources and teach younger children about pollinators and local ecosystems. She has since become an intern with the Charleston Parks Conservancy, where she’s piloted a citizen science program through the iNaturalist platform (helping to expand these projects to more than 25 city parks). Lydia is currently designing an urban pollinator garden near one of the conservancy’s community gardens, which will include pathways, seating, educational signage and pollinator-attractant plants for hummingbirds, butterflies and honey bees.
Applicants were required to submit answers to two essay questions and provide a professional reference from a mentor involved in their project, such as a beekeeper or apiarist, community or agricultural organization leader, grower, teacher, school official or member of another relevant organization. As a testament to the quality of this year’s entries, the judges also selected three applicants as honorable mentions for their exceptional commitment to pollinator health: Andie Funk, 16, of Jacksonville, N.C.; Jessie Cline, 18, of Cleveland, N.C.; and Rebekah Hope Watts, 15, of Rankin, Ill.
Also in recognition of National Honey Month, Bayer and Project Apis m. released an updated version of their Healthy Hives 2020 (HH2020) e-booklet, “Research for Tangible Bee Health Solutions.” The booklet, which provides an overview of the program and progress to date on projects funded since HH2020’s inception in 2015, also features two newly funded research projects:
- Helping Bees Come in from the Cold: Development of a Practical Guide to Indoor Storage for Bees – Brandon Hopkins, Ph.D., Washington State University
- Size Matters – Bigger Mites Mean Bigger Problems for Bees: Exploring Possible Mechanisms of Chemical Tolerance of Varroa Mites in U.S. Honey Bee Colonies – Dennis vanEngelsdorp, Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park; Steven C. Cook, Ph.D., USDA-ARS, Bee Research Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland; Krisztina Christmon, Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park
“Since our partnership began with Project Apis m.in 2015, the Healthy Hives 2020 initiative has continued to focus on delivering measurable, impactful solutions for beekeepers,” said Daniel Schmehl, pollinator specialist with the Crop Science division of Bayer. “Over the past five years, Bayer has given $1.3 million towards this initiative, and I look forward to seeing how these research projects directly benefit the beekeeping community and honey bee health well beyond 2020.”
Healthy Hives 2020 and the Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award are initiatives of the Bayer Bee Care Program, which continues the company's 30-year history of supporting pollinator health. For more information on Bayer bee and pollinator health initiatives, please visit: beehealth.bayer.us. You can also follow and share with us on Twitter and Instagram @Bayer4CropsUS.
Bayer is committed to bringing new technology and solutions for agriculture and non-agricultural uses. For questions concerning the availability and use of products, contact a local Bayer representative, or visit Crop Science, a division of Bayer, online at www.cropscience.bayer.us.
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