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Pollinator Pals: Inspiring the Next Generation of Bee Advocates

June 26, 2024

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Pollinator Pals: Inspiring the Next Generation of Bee Advocates

Buzzing with Passion

Who would have thought that a chance encounter between two beekeepers could spawn a movement that inspires kids and adults alike to champion the cause of our winged wonders? Well, that’s exactly what happened when Ted Dennard and Tami Enright, two passionate advocates for pollinators, joined forces to create The Bee Cause Project.

As I delve into their story, I can’t help but be captivated by the power of collective impact – a concept that these two bee enthusiasts have truly embodied. You see, while an individual bee may only produce a tiny fraction of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime, an entire hive can churn out an impressive 20 to 60 pounds of the sweet stuff each year. It’s all about working together, leveraging each other’s strengths, and creating something truly remarkable.

From Backyard Hives to National Impact

Tami’s journey into the world of beekeeping began as she sought engaging ways to teach her four children about ecology. After installing a couple of hives in her backyard on the Isle of Palms in South Carolina, her hobby quickly blossomed into a newfound calling. Tami started teaching apiculture at a local school, and the vision for The Bee Cause Project began to take shape.

Meanwhile, across the state line in Georgia, Ted Dennard had been captivated by the art of beekeeping since the tender age of 12. He kept bees throughout high school and college, even teaching village farmers in Jamaica the art of apiculture through the Peace Corps. Ted’s fascination with native beekeeping practices led him to study bees in far-flung destinations like New Zealand, Vietnam, and Ireland, before eventually founding the Savannah Bee Company.

When Tami and Ted were introduced by a mutual friend, the two beekeepers knew they had found kindred spirits. They heeded the lessons of their beloved bees and joined forces, determined to grow their impact and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards.

Creating a Buzz in the Classroom

The Bee Cause Project’s journey truly took flight when Tami and Ted installed their first observation hive at Sullivan’s Island Elementary School. This proved to be a pivotal moment, as it paved the way for a partnership with the Whole Kids Foundation, which became a crucial 5% Give Back recipient at the Charleston Whole Foods Market.

With the support of sponsors, beekeepers, educators, and community members, The Bee Cause Project has since provided Bee Grants to over 500 schools and organizations across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. These grants have enabled hundreds of children and adults to engage with the wonders of the hive, sparking their curiosity and fostering a deeper connection to the natural world.

As Co-Founder and Executive Director, Tami has been instrumental in developing the project’s experiential STEAM curriculum, which combines hands-on learning with the latest research on pollinators. She firmly believes that the best way to help people and pollinators thrive is through community-driven initiatives and a shared passion for the environment.

Empowering the Next Generation of Bee Advocates

One of the core tenets of The Bee Cause Project is the idea that bees, like humans, are most powerful and productive when they work together. And that’s precisely the message they’re spreading to the next generation of environmental stewards.

Through their observation hives, STEAM curriculum, and comprehensive beekeeping resources, The Bee Cause Project is strengthening the connection between people, pollinators, and our shared environment. As Vanessa Dawley, the Adirondack Pollinator Project intern, puts it, “The relationship between native plants, birds, bees, butterflies, wasps (yes, even the wasps deserve some love!), moths, and more is one of my priorities.”

By empowering individuals with knowledge about native plants, pollinators, and habitat protection, The Bee Cause Project is cultivating a new generation of bee advocates. As Vanessa eloquently explains, “The framework of community-based research emphasizes passing down knowledge through local networks so that more voices are able to contribute to educating one another by bringing a diversity of identities and lived experiences to the table.”

Sowing the Seeds of Change

The Bee Cause Project’s impact extends far beyond the classroom. In fact, their efforts have grown to include community gardens, pollinator plant sales, and even an annual Adirondack Pollinator Festival. These initiatives not only educate and inspire, but they also provide tangible solutions for restoring and protecting the habitats that our winged friends rely on.

Just imagine the scene at the Adirondack Pollinator Festival and Native Plant Sale in Lake Placid, where almost every variety of pollinator-friendly plant sold out, destined to bloom in over 200 backyards, community gardens, and camps. It’s a testament to the growing demand for action and the power of grassroots movements to drive real change.

But the work of The Bee Cause Project doesn’t stop there. They’re also actively advocating for policies and practices that protect pollinators, human health, and the planet as a whole. By using their collective voice, they’re working to safeguard the bees in communities across the country, before it’s too late.

Bee the Change You Wish to See

As I reflect on the journey of The Bee Cause Project, I can’t help but be inspired by the impact that a few passionate individuals can have when they come together. Their story is a reminder that we all have the power to make a difference, no matter how small our individual contributions may seem.

So, if you’re looking to get involved and “bee” the change you wish to see in the world, there are plenty of ways to join the movement. Whether you’re interested in supporting the project’s mission through sustainable purchases, volunteering your time and talents, or simply spreading awareness on social media, every little bit counts.

Who knows, maybe your own backyard hive could one day grow into a nationwide network of bee advocates, just like Ted and Tami’s did. After all, as the saying goes, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” And when it comes to protecting our pollinators, we’re all in this together.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to join the hive and become a Pollinator Pal. The bees (and the planet) will thank you!

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