Award Recipients

The Community Leadership Award recognizes individuals who use their interest in and commitment to honey bees to benefit their communities. This year the award will recognize a collaboration between a grower and beekeeper that has benefited pollinators. Past winners include: 

  • Paul Vonk, the 2015 winner, who developed HiveTool™, a collection of hardware and free, open source software for beekeepers to continuously monitor bee hives and influenced students through a STEM based education project.
  • Herbert Everhart, the 2014 winner, was recognized for founding an innovative program for veterans and youth to learn about beekeeping.
  • Steve McNair, the 2013 winner, who used beekeeping to teach at-risk youth a unique skill set, responsibility and discipline.

2015 Winner Paul Vonk

Paul Yonk CLA winner press release

Paul Vonk

Winner of the Third Annual Community Leadership Award

Georgia beekeeper Paul Vonk has won the third annual Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award and the accompanying $5,000 grant to continue his work. Paul was chosen because of his efforts to improve pollinator health, by educating the beekeeping community students interested in pursuing STEM education fields through HiveTool™, which provides a noninvasive way to analyze colony health.

HiveTool provides a collection of readily available, off-the-shelf hardware and free, open source software that continuously monitors beehives. The system allows beekeepers to better manage their hives by giving real time feedback on hive conditions. Vonk also uses HiveTool to transmit data to NASA to study how bees are impacted by land use and climate changes.

Paul Vonk has made HiveTool the centerpiece of his work with a local school as well as regional beekeepers, sharing his passion and enthusiasm for beekeeping with students who previously had never worked with pollinators. The HiveTool system has attracted students to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields by allowing the students to work with bees and learn more about bee health and beekeeping.

“It is truly an honor to be chosen the winner of the 2015 Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award,” Paul said. “With Bayer's recognition and contribution, even more students and beekeepers will be able to learn about HiveTool and how it can be used to improve pollinator health.

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2014 Winner Herbert Everhart

Herbert Everhart

Herbert Everhart

Winner of the Second Annual Community Leadership Award

Thursday, May 14, 2015
In Remembrance of Herb Everhart, 2014 Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award Winner
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Herbert Everhart, owner of Eversweet Apiaries, is a disabled Vietnam veteran, West Virginia beekeeper, farmer, and winner of the second annual Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award and the accompanying $5,000. In partnership with the West Virginia Eastern Panhandle Beekeepers Association (WVEPBA), Herb has developed a program designed to educate veterans on all aspects of beekeeping, including establishing hives and marketing their products.

Grateful for the medical care he received after losing a leg while serving in the Vietnam War, Herb wanted to help veterans recover from war and assimilate back into civilian life through beekeeping. He enjoys the camaraderie of his fellow veterans and works in a youth program as well, which includes his 15-year-old grandson who helps him in his iris growing business.

When he first joined WVEPBA, the club consisted of five people. With his help and the help of many others, the club now has 170 members. He currently serves as mentor coordinator for new beekeepers. He manufactures beekeeping woodenware and sells all things related to beekeeping. Eversweet Apiaries has donated many hives, equipment and bees to WVEPBA's youth program and veterans' program.

Herb has published a beekeeper's guide book that he distributes for free. "I tell everyone when you keep bees, you have to be on the bees' schedule and not your own. Long gone are the days when bees can take care of themselves. Honey bees need us just as much as we need them."

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2013 Winner Steve McNair

steve mcnair

Steve McNair

Winner of the First Annual Community Leadership Award

Steve McNair is an Illinois beekeeper and winner of the first annual Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award and the accompanying $5,000. He is the director of development at Salem4youth, a therapeutic residential program for at-risk young men ages 12-18 years old. Steve used the award to help Salem4youth use the complexity of honey bee colonies to mentor teenage men.

Salem4youth mentors and supports youth and families in crisis. The organization’s four-phased program focuses on social skills needed to help its members reintegrate into their communities and develop a successful future. Inspired by Steve’s experiences in beekeeping, Salem4youth recently added an apiary of six hives to its working farm program.

In developing this unique, hands-on program, Steve realized the potential of beekeeping to provide a unique skill set and approach to teaching responsibility and discipline to Salem4youth teens. With the help of local beekeepers, McNair played an integral role in launching and establishing the apiary in spring 2013.

“Bayer’s recognition of our apiary program and the experiences it has brought to our youth is truly an honor,” Steve said. “This award not only reinforces the organization’s beekeeping efforts, but it also encourages our staff and youth to continue advancing the program.”   

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