2020 Bayer Bee Care Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award

Bayer celebrates pollinator enthusiasts and beekeepers who share the benefits of bees with their community.

younge beekeeper


The Bayer Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award, sponsored by the North American Bayer Bee Care Program, recognizes the next generation of beekeepers (12-18 years old) and their efforts to give back to their communities through activities that support honey bee and pollinator health. The award honors young leaders who have created unique projects on their own or with their local communities to promote and protect pollinator health for years to come. Each entrant entered to win a $3,000 (first), $2,000 (second) or $1,000 (third) place prize, which can be applied toward continuing their beekeeping efforts or a college scholarship.

And the Winners Are…

2020 Award Winners

From left to right: Keith Griffith III, Emma Stevens and Lydia Cox

After receiving numerous impressive entries, we are proud to announce the winners for the 2020 Bayer Bee Care Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award.

1st place: Keith Griffith III, 13, of Louisville, Kentucky

Keith has been working as a beekeeper with his uncle since he was 11. What started as a therapeutic outlet soon became more than just a hobby; it’s also enabled him to start a business, Beeing2gether, where he sells honey, branded merchandise and a book he published in 2019, “Honey Bees and Beekeeping: A Mental Health Miracle.” Since writing his book, Keith has been featured on local Louisville television shows to raise awareness about the importance of honey bees and how beekeeping can provide an outlet for those suffering from mental illness. In the future, Keith hopes to expand his business and build a rooftop apiary where he can provide hands-on educational experiences for students and community members looking to learn more about beekeeping.

2nd place: Emma Stevens, 16, of Greenup, Kentucky

Emma is deeply committed to educating her community about the importance of pollinators. Through her high school agriculture department, she volunteers with local elementary school junior bee clubs to teach younger students about beekeeping. Emma serves as her high school’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) vice president, where she provides educational information to local farmers and other community members on the impacts of honey bees. In the future, Emma hopes to start a bee club at her high school, conduct a three-day junior bee camp for students in second through sixth grades, and organize a STEM Day for her district’s four elementary schools, with local high school students leading hands-on science, technology, engineering and math activities.

3rd place: Lydia Cox, 17, of Charleston, South Carolina

A fourth-generation beekeeper, Lydia has been keeping bees since she was 7 years old and works with her family to sell honey as a way to raise money for college. Outside of the family business, Lydia volunteers with local community groups to help preserve environmental resources and teach younger children about pollinators and local ecosystems. She has since become an intern with the Charleston Parks Conservancy, where she’s piloted a citizen science program through the iNaturalist platform (helping to expand these projects to more than 25 city parks). Lydia is currently designing an urban pollinator garden near one of the conservancy’s community gardens, which will include pathways, seating, educational signage and pollinator-attractant plants for hummingbirds, butterflies and honey bees.

As a testament to the quality of this year’s entries, the judges also selected three applicants as honorable mentions for their exceptional commitment to pollinator health:

  • Andie Funk, 16, of Jacksonville, North Carolina
  • Jessie Cline, 18, of Cleveland, North Carolina
  • Rebekah Hope Watts, 15, of Rankin, Illinois

It’s inspiring to see the efforts that students across the country are making; all who applied should be proud of the work they are accomplishing. Check back in the spring for information on the 2021 award process.

In the meantime, read more about past winners, Jake Reisdorf, Tucker Leck (and more!), and their BEE-autiful efforts to protect pollinators here.

MEET THE JUDGES

Aimee Hood
Aimee Hood

Regulatory and Scientific Engagement Lead, Crop Science, a division of Bayer

Aimee Hood is the head of regulatory and scientific engagement for Crop Science, a division of Bayer. Her team of scientists has responsibility for engaging with scientists about the safety and benefits of Bayer’s portfolio of products and empowering internal scientists to advocate for science. Aimee is a STEM advocate and serves as president of a local high school’s advisory board and chairs their annual golf tournament. She has a degree in Biochemical Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia. In 2018, Bayer named her Working Mother of the Year.
Joan Gunter
Joan Gunter

President, American Beekeeping Federation

Joan Gunter was raised in rural North Dakota on the family farm. After college, she taught school on all levels for 10 years while raising two boys with her husband Dwight. Joan and Dwight of Towner, North Dakota, have been commercial migratory beekeepers for over 30 years traveling to Mississippi, Texas and California. The family-owned company is primarily engaged in honey production, queen rearing, pollination and the sale of bees. Joan currently serves as president of the American Beekeeping Federation (ABF) as well as trustee for the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees. She is also active with the National Honey Board, the Honey Bee Health Coalition and the state beekeeping organizations of North Dakota, Mississippi and Texas.
Brandon Hopkins
Brandon Hopkins, Ph.D.

Assistant Research Professor, Apiary and Laboratory Manager, Washington State University

Hopkins is an assistant professor at Washington State University in the Department of Entomology. He was a leader in the development of cryopreservation of honey bee germplasm, which enabled establishment of the world’s first honey bee germplasm repository at WSU. He also administers the WSU Disease and Diagnostic Lab, providing beekeepers timely information on colony health.
Grace Kunkel
Grace Kunkel

Communications Coordinator, Project Apis m.

Grace has worked with insects in some form or another over the last ten years. At the University of Maryland she was first introduced to bees through coursework and then used those skills to help with ongoing research. Grace received her master’s degree after studying honey bee toxicology and hive dynamics. Since then she has supported several bee related projects including the APHIS National Honey Bee Survey and different initiatives through the Bee Informed Partnership. More recently she was studying honey bee nutrition at Land O Lakes/Purina, and then back to toxicology. Grace joined the PAm team in the fall of 2020.
Jake Reisdorf
Jake Reisdorf

First-ever Young Beekeeper Award winner and 2019 Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award winner; CEO, Carmel Honey Company

Entrepreneur and founder of Carmel Honey Company, Jake manages more than 100 hives in his California community, has two specialty retail honey stores and runs an online shop, shipping honey across the United States. As a high school student, he leads the community by example and seeks to share his knowledge of pollinators with the next generation.