On Monday, May 9, 25 youth from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe (SCIT) participated in the Honey Bee Challenge hosted at the Ziibiwing Center in Mt. Pleasant. Betty Jo Krosnicki, MSU Extension children and youth educator, and Kristi Schreiber, 4-H program coordinator in Isabella County, organized this event that teaches 4-H youth about the importance of honey bees in food production in order to feed the world.
Youth learned about the process of honey bee pollination and the many foods that we grow that depend on them such as apples, oranges and strawberries. They also learned about the importance of beekeeping and research positions that will ensure we have bees to keep pollinating our food crops in the future. Participants even had the opportunity to build their own battery-powered honey bees. They took home new backpacks filled with information, with seeds to encourage planting flowers that are great sources of pollen and nectar for bees. Each also received a stick of honey.
In Michigan, one of the deliverables for this grant is to train at least 20 4-H teen leaders to lead the Honey Bee Challenge in their local communities. The activity can be scheduled during camps, after-school programs, 4-H club meetings or even during school. With the activity this year, Betty Jo and her team will reach about 1,500 youth participants March through July in Michigan. She has worked with teen leaders throughout the state to train them to lead the activity. Most of the teen leaders for this project received training in March during the Teens as Teachers workshop at Kettunen Center. This is a great opportunity for teens to build their confidence and leadership skills.
Nationally, the Honey Bee Challenge is a program that is a part of the 2016 4-H Ag Innovators Experience, sponsored by National 4-H Council and Monsanto. Betty Jo has managed the grant project for the past 3 years, directing the Fish Farm Challenge the first year and the Windmill Challenge the second. The program reaches 10,000 youth in states with a strong agricultural industry. Its purpose is to help young people develop the professional skills needed to feed a growing world population. It ties in relevant concepts such as aquaculture and environmental stewardship with a hands-on activity that makes learning fun and encourages young people to pursue a career in agriculture and technical fields. This initiative seeks to engage the next generation of farmers, scientists and innovators that will be able to address the needs of an exponentially growing world population.