Sara Colombe, agriculture instructor at Milbank High School, was selected to join a group of 12-16 educators in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota who will be trained in beekeeping to help them develop a curriculum related to beekeeping. Each will receive apiary equipment for their school. The goal is to capture the interest of Generation Z students in order to promote STEM and to address the issue of pollinator decline in honeybees.
“Before this grant opportunity, I had zero knowledge about bees,” Colombe says .”This grant is providing me contacts of teachers and experts that we can use when we receive our hives. I look forward to hearing what other beekeepers do with their hives.”
Four two-day workshops this summer and four in 2024 will help foster the teachers’ knowledge. The workshops will be led by regional industry representatives, mentors, researchers, and other leaders. Long-term support from groups such as the Great Plains Master Beekeeping Program at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln will also be available.
The program is part of a $500,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The title of the grant is Bringing Effective and Engaging Science Teaching into the Generation Z (Beestingz) Classroom using Apiculture.
Dr. Duane Bajema, professor emeritus of agriculture at Dordt University, who serves as one of the primary investigators for this grant, said, “Generation Z can have a huge impact on beekeeping. [They] want to be creative and contribute to solving problems in the world. In this case, they can serve and impact their local communities by addressing the environmental need of pollinator loss and habitat decline.”