Vanessa Bright is an experienced educator with a diverse array of skills honed over time spent in the financial services, insurance, non-profit and government industries. She is dedicated to educating adults and youth on the basic principles of financial literacy and providing them with the skills to become financially free and fiscally responsible adults. That is why she wrote the book Dollars and Sense for Parents and Children, available on Amazon. As a Family and Consumer Sciences Educator for University of Maryland Extension, she focuses on improving the quality of life of families and individuals through non-formal, participatory, educational programs. She is also currently enrolled as a Master's of Social Work Student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
IT ALL STARTED WHEN...
I was growing up and I didn’t know any kid that had asthma or an allergy. However, in my 12 year old’s classes, there are usually a few children, including him, with either condition or both. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 12 people in the U.S. have asthma. That is about 25 million people and the rate appears to be increasing.
Experts believe that the increase in asthma cases may be due to an increase in airborne pollens, climate changes that trigger increased pollen levels, urban air pollution and the overuse of antibiotics.
As the rate of asthma and allergy cases increases, the honey bee colonies are decreasing, probably a victim of the same causes. Many believe that our increasing use of chemical pesticides and herbicides, which honeybees ingest during their daily pollination travels are largely to blame. It is also believed that bee populations may be vulnerable to other factors such as an increase in atmospheric electromagnetic radiation from a growing number of cell phones and wireless towers. Biologists also wonder if global warming maybe exaggerating the growth rates of pathogens such as mites, viruses and fungi that are known to take a toll on a bee colony, in addition to less consistent seasonal weather patterns.
I must admit that I became concerned with the environment when my son was diagnosed with asthma and a nut allergy before he turned two. I began purchasing only natural and organic household cleaning products, recycling, and working to improve the air quality in our home. About 8 years later, my fellow room mother and friend told me she was retiring and going to become a beekeeper. At first, I thought it was a joke but soon she had convinced me that we needed to do our part to educate others about the importance of honeybees and to help increase the number of thriving colonies. I purchased my first hive in 2015.
Shortly after becoming a beekeeper, I was teaching an entrepreneurship class in a women’s prison when I mentioned it to one of my students. She told me that they wanted to have hives at the women’s prison and that the men’s prison already had them. She told me about a company in Chicago that was making products from the honey, wax and other contributions of honeybees. In addition, they were also hiring ex-offenders to work in the company, providing transitional employment for people that have difficulty finding employment.
I thought this was a novel idea. The reason, I was teaching entrepreneurship at the prison in the first place was to help people that I knew might not have another option for employment. The concept for BeeHavin’ was born in that classroom.