Adithi Raghavan, 18, of Sammamish, Washington, a senior at International Community School, educates young people about the environmental and economic impact of declining honeybee populations around the world, and encourages them to plant pollinator gardens to help reverse the decline. While volunteering for a local wildlife habitat group, Adithi learned about Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon in which bee colonies suddenly disappear after the mass exodus of worker bees. “If bees continue to disappear, people employed by the agricultural sector will experience huge business losses and consumers will face increasing food prices and limited options,” said Adithi. “Thus it is imperative that we rally young volunteers to plant pollinator gardens.”
After three years of training to become a beekeeper and planting pollinator gardens, Adithi organized a small group of students at her school to launch a “BEEducated” initiative. First, they developed a free interactive app that provides general information about bees through a quiz, a map highlighting bee-friendly locations and a Jeopardy-style game. So far, it’s been downloaded thousands of times and is used in hundreds of classrooms across the country, said Adithi. Her group then developed a curriculum outlining the steps necessary to plant pollinator gardens at schools. Realizing that not all schools could afford gardening materials, Adithi’s team raised more than $21,000 to provide students with gardening kits. Adithi and her colleagues also have lobbied legislators to fund bee research, and have recruited students in North Carolina and New England to start their own “BEEducated” chapters.