Southwest Honey Co. of Fort Wayne, Indiana recently received a $7,500 grant from the USDA’s North Central Region SARE (NCR-SARE) to study the “Symbiotic relationship between farmers, ranchers and honeybees through consumer education.”
This grant serves as a landmark for the organization whose primary mission is to protect and preserve the local honey bee population through research, education, conservation and fundraising. With their study, Southwest Honey Co. will hold classes this summer (2016) for children, adults and seniors that are focused on connecting participants with the environment and ecosystem through the plight of the declining honey bee.
The study will evaluate the direct impact and correlation between education through activity-based educational experiences and the choices consumers make to participate in active conservation of the natural environment in the community and at home. More than just honey, Southwest Honey Co. believes that the honey bee is the perfect way to portray the ecosystem and how small creatures can have a large impact on the wellbeing of the environment. The evaluation process will take in account over 1,000 participants surveyed throughout the next two years.
According to Megan Ryan, lead educator and designer of the study and summer program, “Education is the most effective way to influence and change a community’s perspective on the importance of the honey bee population. These educational experiences will include hands-on experiences for many people in our community and provide resources to change the future of pollinators.” Ms. Ryan has a Master’s Degree in education and will be using her summer off from teaching at Bishop Luers High School to hold the programs at The Southwest Conservation Club in Fort Wayne.
Programs will be held for children and young adults (K-12) split into four separate age groups, adults can participate in “Bees & Brew,” and seniors can attend the “Bees & Tea” program. Not beekeeping classes, each session or “experience” is specifically designed to be fun and educational with many hands-on activities, bee-jokes and a lesson plan that excites and engages participants. Each session has a focus on pollinators and their impact on our daily life. Participants are not required to complete a survey, but are encouraged to complete the anonymous information about their conservation “habits.” Because Southwest Honey Co. believes that families should learn together, one parent can attend the classes with their child for free, and all other tickets are less than the price of a movie ticket to attend.
Registration is now open for individuals and groups who would like to get outside and learn about nature, the ecosystem and honey bees. More information can be found online at: www.southwesthoney.com
Since 1988, the SARE program has helped advance farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities through a nationwide research and education grants program. The program, part of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems.