Congratulations to Nikolas Liepins '21 who was named a 2017 Pollinator Advocate and Farmer-Rancher Award winner by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC). Nikolas is the youngest recipient and the first Minnesotan to earn a National Pollinator Advocate award, an honor most often given to professional scientists, conservationists, government officials, and academics.
Nikolas began his work to help protect Minnesota's bee populations in his Grade 7 science class where students learn about native bees and build bee houses for their home gardens and community spaces. After learning about the bees in class, Nikolas suggested focusing a project for his FIRST®Lego® League Team on native bee species, where bee houses were a component of the competition solution. It was at this point Nikolas realized the impact he could make by taking his passion beyond the walls of SPA.
Two years later, Bee Kind MN, Inc. has officially become a 501c3 and has over 160 registered bee homes in the U.S., Canada and France, including several on the roof of the newly renovated Target Center in Downtown Minneapolis. In addition to giving age focused presentations to youth in local schools and scout groups, Bee Kind MN has a robust website with pollinator-friendly plant lists and building instructions for bee homes. Nikolas has also partnered with Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Landscape revival EXPO, Pollinator Party, and 3M to provide education and promote biodiversity through the placement of bee houses.
Though the non-profit is barely a year old, Nikolas continues to dream about Bee Kind MN's next steps. "The plan for the future is, most importantly, to continue educating people of all ages, especially kids, about the importance of native bees," he says. "I also see more bee houses being registered, more partnerships being formed, less fear of bees, and overall, more informed conversations around this topic."
In addition to being honored as a National Pollinator Advocate by the NAPPC at a reception at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, DC this fall, Nikolas has also been featured locally by the 3M Newsroom, St. Paul Pioneer Press, and, most recently, Fox 9 news.
Check out Bee Kind MN today!