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Dysart-La Porte FFA abuzz with beekeeping
June 1, 2018

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Students at both Union Middle and High School have a sweet opportunity to learn more about honeybees through a $5,000 grant provided by Pioneer Hybrid which the Dysart-La Porte FFA has used to learn about the misunderstood creatures and build hives outside of the schools.

"We got the grant last winter and the first thing we used the money for was to have Jacob Murphy and myself take a class on beekeeping at Hawkeye Community College," FFA Advisor Louis Beck said. "We then came up with a list of items we'd need and ordered equipment. It's a constant process, which is exactly what I want it to be."

The grant was applied for by Dale Wambold, the Technology Integrationist for Union CSD, to pay for the tuition of the class and purchase the beehives afterwards.

"This project promotes students to not have fear of the bees and educate them on how bees pollinate," Dale Wombald said. "Through this grant, we also got a honey extractor. We have several area farmers that also have bees, but have no way of extracting their honey out. This could be a community service project that goes around and helps farmers extract honey."

Because of the grant, the FFA program has been able to succeed so far with the bees and has added beekeeping to the curriculum.

"If this goes well and we keep the bees alive, we would really like to expand the number of hives at each schools to the point we can produce and give honey to our nutrition programs and sell it with our fruit for fundraising," Beck said. "We could also have adult education classes in the future."

Nick Jorgenson, the Plant Operations Manager from the Dysart Pioneer Production Plant nearby, joined a middle school class on Wednesday, May 23 as Beck showed students the inside of a hive.

"The intention of the grant is to help support the community and help promote education about agriculture," Nick Jorgenson said. "I feel it's great that this grant has gone to a project that explores something unfamiliar, like bee hives. Hopefully it's an eye-opener for students that there are many ways to be involved and make an impact in agriculture."

Beck hopes this new course offering does more than just get students comfortable around bees, but also introduces them to the benefits they offer.

"We have so many crops that depend on pollen being shared, and bees are one way of doing that," Beck said. "Honeybees are very efficient in doing that and we can kind of control their population by having hives like this. Working on this hives opens student's eyes to how important to the ecosystem is."

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