- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
For "outstanding achievements and notable contributions in disseminating science-based beekeeping information since 2016,” the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP) won a 2023 UC Davis Staff Assembly “Citation of Excellence” and praise from Chancellor Gary May.
CAMBP director and founder Elina Lastro Niño, associate professor of Cooperative Extension and a member of UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, and co-program manager Wendy Mather share the Faculty-Staff Partnership Award.
Niño, UC Extension apiculturist since 2014, founded CAMBP in 2016. Mather joined the program in March of 2018. Also integral to the program is Kian Nikzad, but as a newer employee, was ineligible to be nominated.
The awards ceremony, held Sept. 12 in the International Center on campus, singled out “some of our most exceptional UC Davis individuals and teams,” Chancellor May said in his presentation.
Nikzad accepted the award on behalf of Niño, who was participating in Apimondia in Santiago, Chile, conferring with colleagues at the UC Davis Chile Life Sciences Innovation Center, a part of UC Davis Global Affairs. She was assisting them in developing a sustainable and environmentally friendly science-based beekeeping program to support the success of farmers and beekeepers at all economic levels.
“I truly appreciate everything you do on a daily basis to make UC Davis a wonderful place,” the chancellor said. “You are the heart of UC Davis and I'm grateful for your dedication and hard work...you “contribute to our university's success and make UC Davis a more enjoyable, creative, inclusive and invigorating place to work.”
Nomination. Nominators of "The Bee Team" lauded Niño and Mather for providing a “program of learning, teaching, research, and public service, goes above and beyond in delivering comprehensive, science-based information about honey bees and honey bee health. They continually and consistently develop, improve, and refine their statewide curriculum that educates stewards in a train-the-trainer program to disseminate accurate, timely, and crucial information. Honey bees pollinate more than 30 California crops, including almonds, a $5 billion industry (no bees, no pollination, no almonds). Indeed, California produces more than a third of our country's vegetables and three-quarters of our fruits and nuts. However, colony losses are alarming due to pesticides, pests, predators and pathogens.”
As of Sept. 15, 2023, CAMBP has donated 34,000 hours of volunteer time and served 209,000 individuals in education, outreach and beekeeping mentorship. If a volunteer hour were to be calculated at $26.87, CAMBP has given $913,580 back to California in service of science-based beekeeping and honey bee health.
Scholarships. “No money?” wrote the nominators (Kathy Keatley Garvey, Nora Orozco and Tabatha Yang from the Department of Entomology and Nematology). “No problem. (CAMBP) has donated 12 scholarships, worth $250 each; helped novices who can't afford mentoring or equipment by linking them with veteran beekeepers; and is engaging in free bee removals--rescuing and relocating bees.”
Over the past year, CAMBP has developed and expanded its educational materials. This includes launching an asynchronous online course and in-person preparatory programs with its partners. It is updating safety materials and developing an Epinephrine auto-injector/CPR course, geared toward “everyone from 4-H beekeepers to novice beekeepers to the general public,” the nominators wrote.
CAMBP also teaches “schoolchildren about bees at specially guided garden tours at UC Davis, inspiring them “to care for the bees and plant nectar and pollen resources.”
Its website, accessible to the public, offers a list of classes and knowledge-based information, including backyard beekeeping, bees in the neighborhood, bees and beekeeping regulations, defensive bees, live honey bee removals, and protecting pollinators.
“Bottom line,” the nominators concluded, “our ‘B' Team is really an ‘A' Team, an outstanding example of UC Davis teaching, research and service; a team providing exemplary service and contributions; and a team that creates and maintains high morale and embodies the Principles of Community.”
Joint Statement. In a joint statement following the awards ceremony, Mather and Nikzad said: “We share this award with our passionate and caring member volunteers. Our members are deeply committed to honey bee health, science-based beekeeping practices, and, most importantly, to each other. Their enthusiasm and dedication drive our mission forward. We wish to acknowledge Elina Niño for her visionary leadership; she has brought together various stakeholders, including growers, bee breeders, commercial, sideline, and hobbyist beekeepers, as well as the general public, through CAMBP, UC Davis, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE). We missed having her at the ceremony.”
At the Staff Assembly ceremony, one other team received a Faculty-Staff Partnership Award Excellence Award: the Graduate Mentoring Initiative, comprised of Ambarish Kulkarni, faculty, Department of Chemical Engineering; Pamela Lein, faculty, Department of Molecular Bioscience; and Elizabeth Sturdy, staff, director of the Mentoring and Academic Success Initiative, Graduate Studies.
Serving as co-chairs of the 2023 Citations of Excellence Committee were Darolyn Striley, manager of the Office of Student Development, School of Medicine, and Mary Carrillo, business operations manager, Languages and Literatures.
Staff Assembly sponsors the annual Citations of Excellence awards program to provide recognition for UC Davis and UC Davis Health individual staff and staff teams “who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in one of the following areas: teaching, research, service, innovation, supervision, mentorship, team awards and faculty/staff partnership award.”