Since November of 2012, Students for a Sustainable Earth Co-Chairs, Weston Hillier and Nicholas Wikar, have been hard at work authoring a Student Sustainability Grant proposal with the assistance of entomologist Dr. Lawrence Connnor to install six honey bee hives on the campus of Western Michigan University in an effort to conduct long-term apiary research. The installation would be(e) the first-of-its-kind at WMU, and would allow students to gain bee keeper training, investigate phenomenon such as colony collapse disorder (CCD), and examine the potential benefits apiary populations would have on student-led garden and horticulture initiatives.
While the initial grant proposal was rejected by the Student Sustainability Grant (SSG) Allocations Committee in December of 2012, citing more supporting documentation needed to be obtained, busy bees Wikar and Hillier were not discouraged. Since then, they have worked closely with Dr. Connor, Biological Sciences Department Chair Dr. John Spitsbergen, WMU Landscaping Services, and WMU’s Office for Sustainability to get everything in order to submit their grant proposal for a second time. When asked about their work thus far, Hillier replied, “It’s really awesome that we have bridged the gap between higher education and the community. This research will incorporate everything the SFI (Sustainability Fund Initiative, authored in-part by SSE’s former Co-Chair, Joe Szuszwalak, Jr. in 2010) and the SSG were created for. These bees will aid in exploring newly developing fields of biological systems studies at Western Michigan University.”
As this is the first SSG proposal submitted to exceed $10,000, since the program’s inception, a resolution of support from the Western Student Association (WSA) Senate is also needed before approving the project. To accomplish this task, SSE Senator Cody Hodges, member Kyle Martin, and Wikar authored a draft resolution and submitted it to WSA’s Office of the Speaker on February 5th, 2013. The draft resolution was accepted by Speaker Neldon and will be presented as “read only” when the Senate meets on Wednesday, February 6, 2013. The authors are also seeking the sponsorship of WSA’s Sustainability Committee ahead of the resolution’s formal presentation, discussion, and vote by the Senate expected on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 13th.
“Our hard work is paying off, and I am very excited to be a part of such valuable research that is sure to advance sustainability efforts at Western Michigan University. We are just getting started, but we would not have gotten this far if it wasn’t for everyone that has and continues to come together to make this dream a reality,” said Wikar.
Click on the links below to view the draft and read only versions of the resolution.
Getting a first-hand look at bees-in-action, October 2012. Pictured Left to Right; Joe Szuszwalak, Jr., Cody Hodges, Nicholas Wikar, Kyle Martin, Weston Hillier, and Dr. Lawrence “Larry” Connor.
[An update to the story: On February 6, 2013, the Western Student Association Sustainability Committee voted unanimously to co-sponsor Resolution #1213-18. Their co-sponsorship will be reflected on the final version of the resolution.]