Cedar Rapids students fight to save bees

Published: Mar. 29, 2017 at 2:28 PM CDT
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Research shows the honeybee population in Iowa has reduced 70%. After learning about bees, the 2nd through 6th graders at Summit Schools in Cedar Rapids started a campaign to save them.

The students in Monica Hamilton and Jamie Newton’s classes were assigned to pick a service project as a part of the youth led community action program, Jane Goodall’s roots and shoots.

“Jane Goodall wants kids to know they can make a difference in their community just by picking a project in their community,” Teacher Monica Hamilton said.

The students mapped out problems in the community, decided on animals, and then had to narrow it down.

“We had coyotes and couple other choices, and we all voted on bees,” 6th grader Alex Wittnebel said. “The bees pollinate 80% of our food, that’s about 1 in 3 bites of what we eat.”

“We found out that bees were getting extinct because people were using pesticides and that kind of kills the bees and we thought that if more bees got killed, we wouldn’t get as much food, and it would be very harmful to our environment,” 3rd grader Mehar Julka said.

So the student’s created a plan. They broke into teams to tackle each of their tasks. One for gardening to create bee habitats, fundraising to find the money, websites to get the word out, and more.

“Jamie and I are there to make sure they’re staying on task, but other than that it’s up to them to make those deadlines,” Hamilton said.

The students even applied and received their own roots and shoots grant. They also raised more than $400 through

. Tuesday the classes went out in the community to buy supplies and get started. It’s a project that in term saves the bees, but helps the students in a variety of ways.

“There’s going to be things that sixth graders can bring in, and there’s going to be things that even my second graders can bring in, because they see the world differently than sixth graders do,” Hamilton said. “They get so excited because when kids take control of their learning and they apply something to a real life problem they get so much more out of it.”

As a part of their grant, the group will have to report back with a measure of just how much their campaign helped. They plan to take any leftover money and donated it back to the Monarch Research Institute, which is fighting to save the bees as well.