2016 Winner 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.”