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First state chapter of Heroes to Hives beekeeping program begins at MU

The program supports veterans who want to learn beekeeping.

University of Missouri Extension agronomist and longtime beekeeper Travis Harper will teach the hands-on portion of the Heroes to Hives program in Missouri. The program helps veterans learn beekeeping.

University of Missouri Extension agronomist and longtime beekeeper Travis Harper will teach the hands-on portion of the Heroes to Hives program in Missouri. The program helps veterans learn beekeeping.

Nov. 16, 2020

Missouri has the first state chapter of Heroes to Hives, a program that supports veterans who want to learn beekeeping.

Students will participate in a nine-month online program before beginning the hands-on portion, which is taught by beekeeper and MU Extension agronomist Travis Harper. Harper says student veterans will gain beekeeping knowledge and learn the importance of pollinators in agriculture. They will learn to protect honeybees through small-scale, sustainable beekeeping operations.

Missouri is home to more than 440,000 veterans making the transition from military to civilian life, said Karen Funkenbusch, state director of the Missouri AgrAbility Project. Their challenges include anxiety, depression, service-related health issues and disabilities, and finding career opportunities that are personally rewarding.

“These challenges are exacerbated by the loss of the camaraderie and support inherent in military units,” Funkenbusch said. “Transitioning vets often feel a sense of isolation and loss. Heroes to Hives offers veterans a chance to reconnect with their brothers and sisters in arms with a common mission of protecting the most important managed pollinator on the planet.”

To-date, more than 900 military veterans and their dependents have completed the program. They manage more than 4,000 beehives in the United States. New sessions of the free program begin March 2021, and you can enroll online at heroestohives.com.

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