In celebration of National Pollinator Week, Bayer announced two new initiatives: a nationwide call for the next generation of beekeepers and pollinator health advocates to apply for the Bayer Bee Care Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award, and a seed giveaway program to make free seeds available to pollinator enthusiasts interested in planting forage through the Bayer Feed a Bee initiative. National Pollinator Week, taking place this year June 22 to 28, was established 13 years ago by Pollinator Partnership to raise awareness about the significant work pollinators do to help put food on our tables.
An initiative of the Bayer Bee Care Program, the Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award recognizes students between the ages of 12 and 18 who are actively working to support honey bee and pollinator health in their communities. Those who apply have the opportunity to win $3,000 (1st place), $2,000 (2nd place) or $1,000 (3rd place) to support the continuation of their work or to help fund their college tuition.
“Now more than ever, it’s critical that the industry recognize and empower students who will become our future scientists, resource managers, environmentalists, apiarists, and educators,” said Aimee Hood, regulatory and scientific engagement lead for Crop Science, a division of Bayer.
Last year, Bayer introduced the Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award, which recognized past winners and standout applicants of its former program, the Young Beekeeper Award. This year’s program will again celebrate the outstanding achievements of young people who have made a positive impact on their communities through beekeeping or other pollinator-related research and activities. Past honorees have won based on their efforts researching treatments for American foulbrood disease and Varroa mites, honey bees’ No. 1 enemy; educating their communities about the importance of pollinators; managing their own hives, standing out in their respective beekeeping associations, and more.
The 2020 winners will be determined by a panel of industry experts. In addition to Aimee Hood, panel members include:
- Joan Gunter, president, American Beekeeping Federation
- Brandon Hopkins, 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 winner; CEO, Carmel Honey Company
The judges will select winners based on their applications, their responses to two essay questions and a professional reference from an individual involved in the student’s project, such as a mentoring beekeeper/apiarist, community or agricultural organization leader, grower, teacher, school official, or member of another relevant organization (e.g., beekeeping or gardening association).
“It’s incredibly important for companies like Bayer to recognize and support the work young beekeepers are doing for pollinator health,” said Reisdorf, who is 17 years old and a rising senior. “From a young age, I’ve been fascinated by bees, so I love teaching others about pollinators and their contributions to our food supply. As a high school student, I strive to lead my community by example by engaging young students across the country to get excited about beekeeping and STEM education, and I’m excited that Bayer is just as committed.”
Any student between the ages of 12 and 18 who has approval from a legal guardian as well as a sponsoring mentor may apply for the 2020 award. To review application requirements and enter online, please visit their website.
Also in recognition of National Pollinator Week, the Bayer Feed a Bee initiative is relaunching its seed giveaway program, focused on making free seeds available to pollinator enthusiasts around the country looking to do their part to support the health of bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Those interested in requesting pollinator-attractant seeds can visit the Feed a Bee website today to request a free shipment of Feed a Bee seed packets, which can be used to create a pollinator haven in backyards, community gardens, on windowsills, doorsteps, and more to help fill the gap of existing pollinator forage sources across the U.S.