Meet the 2016 Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award Recipients, and Enter the 2017 Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award!
Over the past four years, Bayer has sponsored the Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award to recognize individuals who have harnessed the power of honey bee colonies to benefit their communities. Scott Witte, director of agronomy at Cantigny Golf in Wheaton, Illinois, and Luke Cella, executive director of the Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents (MAGCS) are the 2016 Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award recipients. The pair is recognized for their efforts to promote healthy ecosystems for honey bees and other pollinators through the Bee Barometer Project on Chicagoland golf courses.
The Bee Barometer Project, founded by Witte in 2010, is dedicated to changing public perception about golf courses’ roles in conservation and land management. Golf courses offer large areas of valuable greenspace across the Midwest, which are ideal for supporting diverse ecosystems with various types of flora and fauna – they are not just for sport.
Cantigny Golf is home to six managed hives and two wild hives, all of which thrive on native wildflower patches found throughout the grounds. However, these bees support more than just the pretty flowers that line the fairway. They offer a great learning opportunity for golfing patrons about the important role pollinators play in the outdoor landscapes we enjoy. Additionally, honey provided by the managed hives is incorporated into meals prepared by the course chef, as well as sold in the pro shop to help generate funds for Witte’s environmental projects.
Scott Witte and Luke Cella’s partnership is an excellent example of a collaborative relationship between beekeepers and golf course executives to improve bee health. These types of collaborations are increasingly important and will be a key focus of the 2017 Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award.
This year, the Community Leadership Award is continuing its partnership-focused structure and further expanding its reach to recognize collaboration among beekeepers and growers, researchers, golf course superintendents and/or other stakeholders whose partnerships protect pollinators and benefit their communities. The partners who enter are eligible for a $5,000 prize to continue their valuable collaborative work with bees in their community.
New in 2017, the Community Leadership Award will also recognize a young beekeeper under 18 years old with a $1,000 prize to support 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. Any student under 18 who has approval from a legal guardian and sponsoring mentor, such as an apiarist, grower, community leader, teacher, school official, beekeeper, etc., may apply.
Entrants must complete an entry form, two essay questions and provide contact details for a reference who is an apiarist, a grower, a community leader or a member of a relevant organization, such as a beekeeper, growing or gardening association. The award winners will be selected from a pool of applicants by a panel of judges.
More information about the 2017 Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award will be available at https://beehealth.bayer.us/home when the official call for entries is issued next week.