We had an in-house field trip today at the O.K. Corral. We’d been working for a while on doing some kind of trip before the end of school. Our original plan was to go to Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter. The problem with that was that the fee per child was $4.50, then we would have had to tack on another $3.00 to pay for the bus, bringing the total to $7.50, which is really too much to ask from our Title I families.
Enter Bee Understanding, a local non-profit organization that educates people about the importance of honey bees to our food supply. According to their website, “bees account for thirty percent of the food we eat…” We received an email from Al and Keely Salopek stating that they are an approved vendor for the school district and explaining what they do. For $3.50 per child (for a guaranteed 100 students) Mr. Al comes to your school and does an entertaining and interactive hour-long presentation explaining the various types of bees in a hive and the roles that they play. Following the whole-group presentation, he meets with individual classes for 15 minute sessions where he answers questions and lets kids view his observation hive up close and personal. Each kid is given a straw of honey to taste and an “I learned about honey bees today.” sticker to wear home.
We ran into a couple of unforeseen problems when we sent home permission slips for this in-house field trip. For some of our parents, whose children come to school every day and are given free breakfast and free lunch, it was incomprehensible that they should have to pay money for a trip in which the kids don’t actually go anywhere. Another problem was that many of our kids are scared shitless of animals, period, let alone bees. I had five kids who resisted three rounds of permission slips and opted to be farmed out to some of our third-grade friends rather than attend the presentation.
But it was their loss, because the session was terrific. Mr. Al was enthusiastic and entertaining, keeping the nearly 100 first graders enthralled for a whole hour. He brought costumes and props and invited kids to come onstage to portray the various bee jobs. By the end of the hour, the kids knew all sorts of things about how a bee hive operates and why bees are essential to our world.
I would highly recommend Bee Understanding as an affordable alternative to a field trip away from school. If you’re not local to Palm Beach County, check with your local Backyard Beekeepers’ Association to see if this type of program is available in your area.