Celebrating Educators on International Environment Education Day

Bee Girl Profile

There is no denying the importance of being aware of what’s going on in the world around us, particularly when it comes to environmental issues including climate change, pollution, and the myriad of other issues plaguing our planet. It was with this in mind that the United Nations created International Environment Education Day while at its Conference on Human Environment, which took place in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972. According to NationalToday.com:

“This day is an opportunity to assert and analyze the issues and questions that pertain to helping the environment, specifically the world that we currently live in. It reminds us to understand and acknowledge the interdependence of man and the environment itself[.]”

There is no doubt that honey bees play a critical role in our food system and overall environment, pollinating over 90 crops that keep our planet beautiful and bountiful, and, of course, feed the world. Through our Celebrating Beekeeping video series, we have had the privilege to meet, learn about, and share the stories of beekeepers both locally and around the world and their impact on their environment and communities. In honor of International Environment Education Day, we want to shine a light on the Bee Girl Organization (BGO) and its work on educating the beekeepers of today and tomorrow through a variety of programs.

What started as a passion project for founder Sarah Red-Laird between research projects at the University of Montana has grown into a self-described “grassroots nonprofit centered on bee habitat conservation through research, regeneration, art and education.” As a graduate of the University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation, where she worked as a research assistant, Sarah also holds a degree in Resource Conservation from Davidson Honors College, so there is no lack in educational background in this environmental warrior. And her passion for bees and their impact on our world led her to form the Bee Girl Organization in 2011, which started with a simple mission of teaching others to “love their bees.” To act on her mission, Sarah visited local classrooms, gave talks on honey bees, taught beekeeping classes, and even worked shoulder-to-shoulder with backyard beekeepers. As the dream and the organization grew, so did the programs. Today, while there is still a focus on education, BGO has evolved to focus on research and conservation and is involved in many projects and partnerships, including:

  • Buzz on the Range
  • Bison and Bee Habitat Project
  • Bee Friendly Vineyards
  • Bee Friendly Banyan

We had the opportunity to talk to Sarah a couple of years ago about some of her and BGO’s projects in this Celebrating Beekeeping video:

So, why did we select International Environment Education Day to highlight the BGO’s work? It’s because of the heart of the organization’s mission: educating the next generation about honey bees and their impact. This mission has been accomplished over the 10+ years of BGO through classroom visits and in-personal events as part of the American Beekeeping Federation’s Bee and Kids program, of which Sarah served as Director for ten years, stepping down in 2023. But one of the most impactful projects BGO participated in was a partnership with Microsoft on the creation of “Build with Bees” for Minecraft: Education Edition. As part of this partnership, Sarah worked with various partners to create curriculum for three bee-centric worlds that allows users to explore the world of honey bees, both in the hive and out in the world. The game went live on August 10th, 2020, and by the end of the year was the third most popular game in the world. You can learn more about the evolution of this project and see it in action here.

We want to acknowledge and thank Sarah and the BGO team for all that they have done and continue to do on behalf of honey bees and our planet.