Fighting for Honey Bee and Pollinator Health Through Scientific Research & Community Outreach
With the honey bee population threatened by climate change, Kaitlyn—known as the “Bee Girl” at Toms River High School North in Toms River, New Jersey—decided to take matters into her own hands by studying and protecting honeybees as both a researcher and activist.
In coordination with Rutgers and Stockton Universities, Kaitlyn implemented a scientific study of Varroa mites—the leading killer of honey bees—and is currently developing a regression analysis to predict Colony Collapse Disorder.
“Without pollinators, the human race and all of earth’s terrestrial ecosystems would not survive. Of the 1,400 crop plants grown around the world, almost 80% require pollination by pollinators,” Kaitlyn emphasized. “Pollinators provide the backbone to ensure that our diets are both diverse and plentiful. In addition to economic value, pollinators support healthy ecosystems which are needed for clean water, clean air, stable soil, and diverse wildlife.”
Perhaps more importantly, Kaitlyn understands that research is useless unless put into action, so she has combined her work in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) with local initiatives, collecting donations to create the 4-H Busy Bees Beekeeping Club.
As a certified beekeeper herself, Kaitlyn leads the club by teaching young people about honey bees and how they can be protected. In coordination with club members, 4-H Teens, and the Master Gardeners, she also secured a 2,500-square-foot pollinator garden and maintains it for local honeybee health.
Kaitlyn understands the critical role honey bees play in our ecosystem, and her plans for pollinator protection has only just begun. She intends to build additional gardens for honey bees throughout Ocean County Park, and this year she will serve as the “New Jersey Honey Queen,” traveling around the state to educate the public on beekeeping and the honey bee industry. Thanks to efforts like hers, the threatened honey bee population has a chance to survive, and even thrive, in a climate-evolving world.
Thanks to Ocean County and New Jersey 4-H, I am able to channel my passion for pollinators to educate and connect with my community. Whether by establishing hives, native plant pollinator gardens, or providing education, 4-H has put me in front of many doors of opportunity and I am very excited to see what comes next!