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The GCA’s 2022 Founders Fund Winner Announced


May 05, 2022

Bee Successful: The 4G Honey Team

The Garden Club of America’s Founders Fund was established in 1934 to provide financial support, through a competitive grant program, to projects proposed by GCA member clubs. The projects are designed to restore, improve, and protect the quality of the environment through educational programs and action in the fields of conservation and civic improvement. This year the $30,000 winning grant was awarded to Bee Successful: The 4G Honey Team and was proposed by The Gertrude Windsor Garden Club, Tyler, Texas.

Bee Successful, the relocation of a bee colony to foster the conservation, preservation, and growth of precious pollinators in Hawkins, Texas, is a transformative project that follows the tenets of the GCA’s Conservation Committee. Through developing environmental education about pollinators and safe beekeeping, a group of four young women from the Hawkins High School FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) became the 4G Honey Team. They embarked on a plan to relocate a pollinator habitat and use best practices to foster pollinator health and support growth. 

With a population of only 1,300, Hawkins, located a few miles north of Tyler, Texas, is a small but mighty town. In 2019, the Ozarka bottling plant was not only buzzing with assembly line activity, but also buzzing with a swarm of bees. Regulations prevented the plant manager from moving the bee colony, so she contacted the Hawkins High School FFA sponsor, seeking help to safely move the bee colony to 3,000 acres of a protected watershed, free of pesticide and fertilizer use outside of the Ozarka plant.

The initial construction and installation of six bee boxes to house beehives has now grown to over fifty. The expansion of bee-box construction is attributable to the woodworking skills of the 4G Honey Team. Before bee-box construction began, the young women had to learn the genetics and characteristics of the bees, their queen, and her drones. They were successful in sourcing calm bee varieties to be introduced into the original swarm at the Ozarka facility to foster not only conservation of the bee colony, but also the growth of honey harvesting. 

The project will fulfill and support the following objectives:

  • Support private and public conservation of pollinators through partnerships with businesses and the school community
  • Encourage youth to participate in sustainable pollinator conservation and foster practices for pollinator production
  • Implement apiary construction and management practices as requested by five area secondary schools

The Gertrude Windsor Garden Club has approved and committed $5,000 for the 4G Honey Team to produce a curriculum for implementation of bee conservation and the construction and management of apiaries. The development of this curriculum will highlight the important function that bees perform as pollinators for the survival of our ecosystem. The funding will also be used in the construction of more beehives using updated equipment and technology. The Caldwell Zoo of Tyler, Texas, is collaborating with The Gertrude Windsor Garden Club to provide research to be used in curriculum development. 

The Founders Fund grant will ensure the distribution of the written curriculum to secondary schools. Grant funds will facilitate the latest technology, i.e., personal protective equipment, wood routers, cedar for pollinator habitat construction, construction of an observation hive, and honey extractors.

This youth-driven project brings together the conservation practice of preserving our pollinators with the successful production of food. This grant will ensure the continuation of educational programs and technology that preserve and maintain the lifeline of our most precious pollinators in a quality environment.



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