Taking Action to Preserve Bee Habitats
Helen’s love of bees began when she started beekeeping with her dad in 2018. She was “absolutely fascinated by the thousands of different species and families.” Helen soon discovered that most people haven't heard of any native bees, other than bumblebees, and that the general population is unaware that humans are having an effect on native bee species through the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Helen also learned that the bee populations are dropping because of a combination of factors, including loss and destruction of habitats. Few people realized or expressed concerned about bee habitats being destroyed. Helen wanted to change that. She decided to use her Gold Award project to raise awareness about these facts. The focus of her project would be to not only raise awareness, but provide an easy and accessible way for community members to get involved with bee habitat revitalization and preservation.
Helen had a table at several community events, including the Cape Elizabeth Family Fun Days, where she handed out an informational pamphlet she created with assistance from a Professor of Insect Ecology and Insect Pest Management from the University of Maine. This pamphlet was used to make people aware of the different bee species and populations. She also recruited members from her high school’s beekeeping club to assist her with designing and constructing bee houses that were given away, along with wildflower seeds, and Native Bee education classes for youth, which she designed the curriculum for. Helen taught theses classes at the Cape Elizabeth Community Services programming and to local Girl Scout troops. Her curriculum included information on the effects of pesticides, bee habitats, repopulation efforts, and how the youths could contribute to restoring native bee populations.
Helen considers one achievement of her project to be the education of her local community members. “I got people to care about bees and be just as interested in them as I am. I was successful in educating town members on how to take the next step and take action.”
Her biggest take away from her Gold Award project is “This project taught me more than anyone could possibly know. It helped me step outside my shell; it showed me how to express myself honestly and frankly. I learned how to effectively organize and execute a program that I designed. I also learned how to keep people interested and engaged in something that I was talking about by focusing my passion and being enthusiastic. But mostly, I learned the immense power I have.”