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Bee the Change

My name is Jared Minderman, and this is my first time writing a blog for GreenSTEMS. I usually work in the background, providing support for Joe as he sees fit, but today I wanted to talk about a recent endeavor that I took part in. Working as part of GreenSTEMS and on behalf of the Talawanda School District, I was tasked with finding a way to take a small step forward in our collaborative vision of enhancing Talawanda’s long-term sustainability initiative. The task was simple, find a funding source to help bring an apiary to Talawanda High School. By bringing bees to Talawanda High School we will be able to help with the sustainability of the land lab, and in the future school garden and orchard.

Bees are incredibly important, they serve a role in crop production, environmental health, and even human well-being! Bees are vanishing at an alarming rate and one small step that we can take is to teach our youth about the importance of bees, as well as how to care for colonies and maintain hives as part of a farm or backyard business.

After scouring the internet for the perfect funding source that shares are goal of educating our youth on sustainable practices I came across SARE. SARE or the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education was the perfect organization to help us make our vision into a reality. Ohio falls in the North Central region of SARE, which makes us very lucky since North Central SARE is the only region that offers the Youth Educator grant. This grant type fits in perfectly with our vision with Talwanda especially for the Future Farmers of America that go to school in the district. The goal for a youth educator grant is to support opportunities for educators to provide programming on sustainable agriculture for youth.

I found SARE with very little time left in their current grant cycle and only had 1 week to write up and submit a grant proposal that we felt like will win over the hearts  and minds of the review board. Having never written a grant before, I was very intimidated by the very prospect, but with the huge amount of support I received from Joe and Dr. Jason Abbitt (professor at MU and local beekeeper) I was able to help refine our shared vision with Talwanda in order to create a yearlong project in order to bring bees to Talawanda, allowing the students to learn how engage in the maintenance, care, and production associated with keeping bees.  Additionally, part of this project is to create a dialogue with students about environmental care and both large and small scale agricultural practices. Finally, we want to focus on fostering mentoring relationships between Butler County community members (like the Butler County Beekeepers Association), while strengthening a burgeoning apiary community at Miami University and environs.

Overall, this was a greatly positive experience for me and I was happy to be given the opportunity to write a grant in order to further GreenSTEMS purpose by finding new ways to provide green STEM educational resources and support to the community. I was grateful to be able to pour into our future, and look forward to hearing back from SARE in February!

A special note of thanks to Alex Zomchek whose nationally recognized bee wisdom is helping guide this project. Thank you for your current and future support!