Introducing the 2019 Blue Ribbon Beekeepers

For the past two years, Bayer has honored young leaders making a positive impact on pollinator health in their schools and communities through the Young Beekeeper Award program. This year, to celebrate National Pollinator Week, Bayer chose past standout applicants and winners as Blue Ribbon Beekeepers, an honor that comes with a $1,000 award and recognizes the impact they’re making in their communities as the next generation of honey bee enthusiasts.

Check out this year’s class of Blue Ribbon Beekeepers to see all the buzzworthy work they’re doing to support pollinator health!

  1. Catherine Trusky

    Catherine Trusky
    Age: 17
    Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    Current pollinator work: Catherine recently started the Chapel Hill High School (CHHS) Bee Club, where she spreads her knowledge about beekeeping and pollinator health to her peers and teachers. She is also an active member of the Orange County Beekeepers Association (OCBA), where she has the opportunity to conduct further outreach about the importance of bees.
    What inspires her: Catherine loves discovering new things about the natural world, and she says she is often amazed at the ways bees can work together to form a cohesive community. “Indeed, there is so much we can learn from observing a colony,” said Catherine. “They show us how to work with others, the importance of supporting our peers and how to work toward the common good.”

  2. Hayden Chrisman

    Hayden Chriman
    Age: 18
    Location: Commerce, Texas
    Current pollinator work:Hayden is currently an Advanced-Level Master Beekeeper, managing over 200 hives. As a member of the Collin County Hobby Beekeepers Association (CCHBA), he also mentors younger beekeepers and helps manage the association’s scholarship program. Most recently, he created the Timber Creek Apiaries website, penning a number of articles on current beekeeping challenges and how to solve them.
    What inspires him: : Hayden is excited to make a living out of his passion for bees one day. He also loves meeting new people and discussing bee health and related issues with them. “I simply love bees. They are fascinating creatures,” said Hayden. “I love how the different components of the entire hive work together.”

  3. Jake Reisdorf

    Jake Reisdorf
    Age: 16
    Location: Carmel, California
    Current pollinator work: Jake currently runs “Jake Gives Back,” a program that strives to educate the general public about honey bees. He finds passion in sharing his knowledge about the significance of bees in the ecosystem. He also participates in educational talks in classrooms and at his honey retail store in Carmel.
    What inspires him: Even though he manages about 100 hives, Jake is still learning something new about bees every day. He finds pride in sharing what he knows whenever possible. “My parents have taught me that continued education is a life-long journey,” Jake said. “It’s important to me to continue learning and to share what I know with anyone who’s interested.”

  4. Jonathan Murphy

    Jonathan “JD” Murphy
    Age: 18
    Location: Denison, Texas
    Current pollinator work: JD recently won a local 4-H competition in which he gave a presentation about beekeeping. He has been working with his dad on growing their beekeeping and honey business for the summer season and has also shared his experience in a number of scholarship applications. In 2018, JD was the third-place winner of the Bayer Young Beekeeper Award.
    What inspires him: JD is inspired by the continuous learning experience that comes with beekeeping. He said that attending other beekeepers’ presentations also adds to his knowledge. “It's a constant learning experience for me, which motivates me to continue,” said JD. “The delicious honey isn’t bad, either!”

  5. Kate Riding

    Kate Riding
    Age: 15
    Location: Redmond, Oregon
    Current pollinator work: Kate is involved in the Central Oregon Beekeeping Association (COBKA), where she leads small group discussions and writes articles for their monthly newsletters. She also recently won the 4-H state competition, sponsored by the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees. Her paper, Age Polytheism, was published in the Western Apicultural Society Journal.
    What inspires her: Kate’s main inspiration is Sandra Hope, the head researcher at the BYU microbiology lab. Her work in the lab is very similar to what Kate wants to do in the future, which is to discover a permanent solution to Varroa mite infestations, the most significant challenge facing beekeepers today. “When I first got into beekeeping, my motivation was for the honey and wax the bees provided, and my goal was to make and sell lip balm to make money for college,” Kate said. “However, seeing how the bees operated, I quickly turned to the science side of things and have loved it ever since.”

  6. Leo Schirokauer

    Leo Schirokauer
    Age: 18
    Location: Shaker Heights, Ohio
    Current pollinator work:Leo is currently working in a lab at Case Western Research University on a project to develop a treatment for an incurable honey bee disease, American Foulbrood. He is also supported by the Greater Cleveland Beekeepers' Association, which helps support his research on this and other projects. Earlier this summer, Leo traveled to Denali National Park in Alaska for two weeks to work on a native pollinator inventory project.
    What inspires him: Having kept bees himself for many years where he saw firsthand many of the challenges they face, he is inspired to use his interest in biology to help improve honey bee health. Part of his motivation to work with bees comes from his interest in environmental issues and sustainable agriculture. “I’ve always been fascinated by how honey bees collaborate in such intricate ways,” said Leo. “There is so much we can learn from understanding and protecting them.”

  7. Tuck Leck

    Tucker Leck
    Age: 12
    Location: Neodesha, Kansas
    Current pollinator work: Among his many activities, Tucker currently maintains six hives and conducts beekeeping activities as part of an ongoing 4-H project. He is an active member of the Lucky Horseshoes 4-H Club and part owner of Leck Family Showpigs. Over the last seven years, Tucker has presented to local kindergarten classes on Kansas Day, as well as at after-school programs for three local school districts; he has also given talks and shown educational displays at local county fairs and area festivals.
    What inspires him: Tucker believes that in each classroom sits a future beekeeper and a promotor of pollinators. “Although I love maintaining my own hives and eating the delicious raw honey that is produced,” Tucker said, “seeing the interest and quest for more knowledge about the honey bee in the young students’ eyes is what truly inspires me.”

Congratulations to the 2019 Blue Ribbon Beekeepers! Bayer is bee-yond proud of the work they do every day to promote pollinator health in their communities and schools.