The busy, buzzing honeybee, whose pollination of plants and flowers is critical to the global food supply, has a new generation of budding young scientists devoted to their survival in Grady County, Georgia.  Students from the Georgia Youth Science Technology Center’s (GYSTC) Southwest Regional Center have developed and maintain a sizeable outdoor garden replete with honey bee hives and a variety of flowering plants to keep the bees busy pollinating.  Much concern has been expressed about the tiny, endangered honeybee and the catastrophic impact its dwindling numbers is having on human food resources worldwide.  GYSTC students are getting hands-on experience in the steps necessary to propagate and maintain thriving, healthy colonies through hive examination and care which includes twice-weekly inspection to observe the health of the hives’ queen and ensure that the bee colonies are not at risk from invasive, harmful species like wax moths, beetles and mites.

But honeybee cultivation and conservation is but one part of an overall program in agricultural development scores of elementary and middle school students are participating in to advance good growth strategies in this heavily agricultural part of the state.  Students have built an outdoor garden featuring various plant species grown in traditional beds but also employing aqua and hydroponic systems.  The resulting produce is sold at local farmers markets and other outlets to fund the garden’s supplies and maintenance needs while giving students experience in entrepreneurism from seed to feed.  Non-agricultural technologies are also in play as students are mastering documentation of their projects through film and video.

Oversight of these diverse and ambitious educational programs is credited to GYSTC’s SW Regional Center Coordinator, Tammy Nowell, whose leadership has been the principal driving force behind the Center’s success outcomes. She recently said, “We’ve struggled under the same challenges as other non-profits, but the dual mission of GYSTC to expose kids to state-of-the-art science through real world application while enabling them to build on the resources present in their own communities is a double win for their future employment as well as the Georgia economy.”

A showcase of many center projects will be on display from 9 AM to 2PM, January 30, 2020 as approximately 1200 students from elementary and middle schools throughout the region are expected to attend a STEM FEST 2020 on the campus of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Southern Regional Technical College in Bainbridge, GA, home to GYSTC’s SW Regional Center. Tours of the gardens, honeybee colonies and college STEM departments along with career exhibits from local businesses and industry and student activity stations will be featured. STEM Fest sponsors, Georgia Power and industry leader James Groover of AG-Pro will be on hand with continued support.  For more information about programs at Southwest GYSTC contact Tammy Nowell at (229) 672-1339 or GYSTC State Office at (470) 578-7592.

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