Building buzz about bees
Kids are learning the power of bees.
The Bee Cause Project, based in South Carolina, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering students, teachers, and community members to learn about—and protect—the bees.
The Bee Cause Project offers STEAM-based curriculum and educational hives to build learning opportunities in classrooms and communities. The organization, which launched in 2013 and has partnered with Bees Wrap since 2017, aims to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards.
Building Buzz About Bees
Ted Dennard and Tami Enright, co-founders of The Bee Cause Project, joined forces nearly a decade ago after growing frustrated by their children’s detachment from the natural world. Dennard, founder of the Savannah Bee Company in Georgia, and Enright, a beekeeper and environmental educator in South Carolina, were troubled by their children’s lack of understanding about where their food comes from and the role that nature plays.
“Ted and Tami both live by the beach with their families, and they are very in tune with nature,” says Megan Swanson, programs manager of The Bee Cause Project. “However, they were finding that their kids weren’t really learning in school about how connected we are with nature, or how that connectedness makes us stronger as communities.”
Since its inception, The Bee Cause Project has provided grants to more than 550 schools and organizations, helping hundreds of children, teachers, and communities across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas.
The grants are known as Bee Grants, which are made possible largely in part through a partnership with the Whole Kids Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Whole Foods Market. The Bee Grants help guide K-12 schools and nonprofits—such as libraries, museums, and nature centers—through the process of installing and maintaining their own educational hives and pollinator curriculum.
Over the past three years, Bee’s Wrap has partnered with The Bee Cause to sponsor observational hives at three elementary schools: North Branch School in Ripton, Vermont, Bingham Memorial School in Cornwall, Vermont, and the Epstein Hillel School in Marblehead, Massachusetts.
Bee a Friend to Pollinators Curriculum
In 2020, The Bee Cause Project approached Bee’s Wrap to sponsor its new curriculum, Bee a Friend to Pollinators, which was developed in partnership with Clemson Cooperative Extension. The curriculum is Common Core compliant and helps children explore their homes, school campuses, libraries, nature centers, and outdoor spaces for pollinator habitat readiness.
For Swanson, who joined The Bee Cause Project two years ago, the ability to offer ready-to-go, Common Core compliant lesson plans that can be used in classrooms, schools, or from a distance was one of her goals for the organization.
“We want people to visit locations and be able to go home and have ownership. Even if a child lives in an apartment on the 35th floor in a big city, we want them to be able to walk to a local park and say, ‘OK, I can still do this lesson plan, and I have ownership over this greenspace because it’s in my city,’” Swanson says. “We don’t ever want kids to feel like they don’t have accessibility to every single lesson plan. And this is why the Bee a Friend to Pollinators curriculum is so great.”
The curriculum is specifically developed for children in grades 3 to 5, but Swanson envisions the plan to grow over the years and be adapted for middle school and high school students.
So far, the Bee a Friend to Pollinators curriculum has been shared with 2,500 educators, and Swanson anticipates the demand will only grow from there.
“With this specific lesson plan, our objectives are to make exploring habitats accessible for everyone,” Swanson says. “Whether it’s your school campus, backyard, local park, or a little patch of grass on the sidewalk, they all have the potential to be a healthy habitat for pollinators. Ultimately, we want to strengthen the connection to our shared environment with pollinators, enabling bees and curious minds alike to thrive.”
Find a copy of The Bee Cause’s Bee a Friend to Pollinators curriculum on TheBeeCause.org.