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 partnership between a beekeeper and a grower, researcher, golf course superintendent or other stakeholder whose collaboration protects pollinators and benefits their community. New in 2017, the award will also recognize a young beekeeper under 18 who is supporting honey bee-focused initiatives in his or her school or community, such as researching ways to improve honey bee health, establishing an apiary on his or her school campus or amplifying existing beekeeping efforts.

2016 Winners Scott Witte and Luke Cella

Winners of the Fourth Annual Community Leadership Award

Scott Witte and Luke Cella

Winners of the Fourth Annual Community Leadership Award

The fourth annual Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award has evolved to recognize the importance of partnerships between beekeepers and other environmental stakeholders within communities. Scott Witte, director of agronomy at Cantigny Golf in Illinois, and Luke Cella, executive director of the Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents, have won the award for their work with the Bee Barometer Project and promotion of healthy ecosystems.

Founded by Witte in 2010, the Bee Barometer Project aims to alter the role golf courses play in conservation and land management. The pair believes the wide greenspaces found at courses offer value that travel beyond the sport. These lands offer ideal space for supporting diverse ecosystems, which benefit from the presence of honeybees and other pollinators.

The Bee Barometer Project also offers a great educational tool, not only for other golf course employees, but for the community as a whole. Cantigny is home to both managed and feral hives, which present opportunities for visitors to learn about the importance of pollinators and why the course protects honey bees.

Through their passion for pollinators and dedication to land stewardship, Witte and Cella have been able to grow similar projects at other golf courses throughout the Chicagoland area. The $6,000 grant accompanying the award, which is being matched two-to-one by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, will be used to begin a Pollinator Fund and enable the pair to begin even more programs in the area.

“I’m very honored and humbled to have won the Bayer Community Leadership Award,“ said Witte. “With these funds, we can perpetuate the message that golf courses are very healthy ecosystems when managed properly and proactively, and honey bees and pollinators can coexist side by side with world class golf conditions all across the U.S.”

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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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