Opening Our Nature Classroom: The Environmental Awareness Academy

GEN2050 and Patch of Heaven Sanctuary successfully launched the “Bats, Bees, and Butterflies Project” this summer. As I mentioned in previous blog posts, GEN2050 is a youth development program I created for under-resourced 6th-12th grade students in Miami-Dade County, Florida, focusing on environmental stewardship, STEM education, entrepreneurship, and leadership. Patch of Heaven Sanctuary (POHS) is a 20-acre historic estate located in Redland, Florida, designated as a wildlife preserve. POHS is dedicated to protecting and expanding the hardwood hammock forest, creating new habitats for native wildlife, and educating the community.

During this past summer camp season, eleven GEN2050 junior beekeepers focused on learning honey bee queen rearing techniques from tropical bee expert, Ricardo Diaz Meraz, from Honduras. Here are a few photos showing our team at work:

Ricardo Diaz Meraz teaching queen rearing techniques at Patch of Heaven Sanctuary in July.
Our team checking on their honey bee queen larva in late July.
We were all fascinated by the worker bees caring for the developing queen bees.
The team was so thrilled to be able to mark the first queen bee they raised to adulthood with the green marking pen!

GEN2050 junior beekeepers will continue to raise queen bees during the 2019-2020 school year, as well assist with other aspects of the Bats, Bees, and Butterflies project, earning community service hours for their work.

In addition to maintaining our honey bee colonies and queen rearing, GEN2050 and POH staff will work together to 1) document Atala butterflies, Mexican Freetail Bats, and Florida Bonneted Bats observed at POH, 2) remove invasive plant species and plant native plant species, including plants for pollinators, 3) install native bee houses and habitats, and 4) provide peer education STEAM field trips to Miami-Dade County elementary, middle, and high school students and educators. We decided to name this fourth part of the project “The Environmental Awareness Academy”. The Environmental Awareness Academy is scheduled to open in January 2020 at Patch of Heaven Sanctuary.  Along with STEAM (yes, we added arts & culture!) education field trips, beekeeping classes will be available for those who are interested in learning about honey bees and how to maintain honey bee colonies. I am beyond excited!

For information on how to register for upcoming Environmental Awareness Academy STEAM field trips, as well as “New Bee” beekeeping classes, please email:

(The Bats, Bees, and Butterflies project funding is provided by The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County, Volunteer Florida, AmeriCorps VISTA, and The National Geographic Society.)

About Linda Freeman

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Linda Pulley Freeman combines her specialized training in environmental and chemical engineering with her deep ministerial commitment as she serves mission fields at home and abroad.

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What People Are Saying

  • This is wonderful! It is going to be another great year for GEN 2050 students. Keep up the good work!

    • Save the Bees! 🐝 Love this!

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