Apr 1st, 2010 by Robo
A few years ago, I read a statistic that said the average age of a beekeeper was 60. I must say I wasn’t at all surprised, yet I fully understood the consequence of such a statistic. I know CCD is not good for the bees, but could it be the savior of beekeeping? Because of the national coverage of CCD, there has been a tremendous influx of beginners and hobbyist who have been bitten by the beekeeping bug. Yes, all puns are intended It is great to see so many hobbyist getting back into beekeeping after varroa pushed a vast majority of them to leave in the early 90s. BUT…… Although the number of beekeepers may be up, and the average age may be more in the high 40s, the future is still not bright. We need more youth involvement.
My son just bridged from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts this past February, and imagine my disappointment when I discovered the beekeeping merit badge had been discontinued. Along comes Christopher Stowell, a Boy Scout in Troop 250, Skiatook, OK who has taken on the mission to get the beekeeping merit badge reinstated. Here is a young man taking on the task of getting more youth involved in beekeeping, something that we as a beekeeping community should have been years ago. I’m sure this has been and will continue to be a positive life changing event for Christopher’s which is one of the great aspects of Scouting. It is so refreshing to see a young man take on what could be seen as a momentous task for more than just self-gratification. Especially in these times where society is all about entitlements.
It took a young man to start this ball rolling. Now it is our turn, as beekeepers, to help him make it happen. Everyone that is reading this can make a difference. I have been fortunate to connect up Neil Van Dalsem, a beekeeper and neighbor of Christopher Stowell, who has made available some petitions and letters that can be used to show our support. Christopher has set a goal of July 15, 2010 to approach the Council with his proposal, so we must work fast.
What we need to do!
Everyone needs to sign the Online Petition at a minimum, but please try to do more as suggested below.
If your not a beekeeper or a scout, but are a concerned citizen and want to help out, please print out the following petition, get as many friends and family to sign it and mail it to Christopher Stowell. Remember, his goal is July 15th, so please allow time for the postal system and for Christopher to manage the incoming mail.
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If you are a Scout, please print out the following petition and get as many of your fellow scouts that would be interested in earning the beekeeping merit badge to sign it. This is very important. The BSA wants to be assured that there is sufficient interest for the merit badge before they will reinstate it. Oh yea, if your up for it and want to really support your fellow scout, Chirstopher, print out the previous petition as well and get all your non-scout friends to sign that.
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If your a beekeeper, you are where the rubber needs to meet the road. One of the bigger concerns that the BSA has is merit badge councilors. It seems that one of the reasons the Beekeeping merit badge was discontinued was due to the lack of merit badge councilors. For the BSA to reinstate the beekeeping merit badge we need to demonstrate that we, the beekeeping community, will support it. I can’t think of a better way to get youth involved in beekeeping, then a nationally, well defined program. Let’s all take the effort to make this happen.
If you are aware of any beekeeping clubs in your area, print out the first file and approach the club to commit to supporting any scout in the area that would be interested in earning the Beekeeping merit badge. Next, print out the second file and get as many of your beekeeping friends to commit to be a Beekeeping merit badge council. Those two steps are the most important, but if your still up for more, contact your local BSA council to get the word out and get a scout interest petition going in your area.
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Latest update – HERE
Christopher was our special guest on the May WpN Beekeeping Podcast. We had a great conversation with Christopher and got an update on how the campaign is going. I strongly recommend listening to the recorded podcast below. It is very reassuring to see such a determined young man of 13 and the dedication and effort he is putting forth. He has definitely grown and matured, and will continue to do so, through this effort and will make a great leader some day.
- Listen now
I have created a forum at Beemaster dedicated to this effort -> BSA Beekeeping Merit Badge Forum
Coverage of Christopher’s Effort
- Häagen-Dazs® – helpthehoneybees.com
- Online Petition – experienceproject.com
- Busy Bee – TulsaWorld.com
- Boy Scout Merit Badge Project – Beesource Forum