#BecauseOfYouth Spotlight: Rhys and Sloan Pullen

#BecauseOfYouth Spotlight: Rhys and Sloan Pullen

The #BecauseofYouth Spotlight series highlights young environmentalists in MCE’s service area who are leading the fight against climate change.

Siblings Rhys and Sloan Pullen attend Campolindo High School in Moraga. Rhys is a senior, and Sloan is a freshman. Together, they founded Lamorinda Bees to educate the public about beekeeping and the importance of bees in maintaining a healthy environment.

Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?

We joined the youth development organization 4-H when we were in elementary school and signed up for their Bee Project to learn about the importance of pollinators. We were both instantly hooked and have been part of the 4-H Bee Project for six years.

In 2020−2021, we applied for the $1,000 Sustainable Lafayette LEAF grant to expand our beekeeping work and make a larger impact in the community. The grant enabled us to purchase two beehives and launch Lamorinda Bees. We hold meetings to educate the public about bees and are planning to hold our first public honey harvest in June to show the community how to process and jar freshly sourced honey.

Pictured: Sloan Pullen (right) and Rhys Pullen (left)

What sort of impact do you hope to make with Lamorinda Bees?

We hope our project makes beekeeping more accessible to the everyday person. When people come to our meetings and see that we can be beekeepers, they see that they can do it too! Beekeeping can seem intimidating, but after attending our meetings, a lot of people want to get started. We hope to be the spark that inspires people to get their own hives.

Why is education around bees and beekeeping so important?

Bees are a major part of our food chain. California depends on pollinators for the agricultural economy, but the bees aren’t thriving. We must educate the public on the small things they can do to support bee populations, which are in decline for many reasons: monocropping, drought, fires, pesticides, and invasive species. We can’t just sit by and hope that these problems will be solved by themselves — we need to take action to help the bees or else the situation will worsen.

The number one thing we try to educate people about is the use of pesticides in their garden. Pesticides are detrimental to the bees because they forage, eat, and gather. Reducing pesticide use is the first and most crucial step we can take. We also suggest putting water out for the bees during hot summer days. The big ask is for people to get hives for their backyard. We hope that starting the conversation with the small changes you can make will lead to bigger impacts on bee health.

Why is it important for youth to use their voices to create change?

Young people are inheriting a broken earth with a battered environment. If we don’t use our voices to keep pushing for change and holding leaders accountable, the situation won’t improve. The negative impacts of climate change and the crisis we’re facing can feel overwhelming, but inaction isn’t the answer. We hope our voices can help people see a way forward. As Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  We can teach the older generation new ways of thinking, but we can’t complain that our world is on fire when we’re doing nothing to help extinguish it.

What’s next for you?

Rhys is off to college in the fall, and Sloan will continue with Lamorinda Bees and high school. Sloan hopes to recruit other kids from the local high schools to join Lamorinda Bees and continue the outreach beyond our high school and immediate community. We hope to partner with Mt. Diablo Beekeepers on future events to bring a mix of older and younger generations together to support the bees.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Add lots of flowers to your garden or build a garden if you don’t have one! Bees thrive in areas of flowers of the same type. Bees need flowers and water. The small things you can do in your garden really help them. Finally, think about getting a hive and joining a beekeeping club. Some of the most interesting people we have met have been because of beekeeping. So many people have gifted us their time and talent on this project and beekeeping journey, and we’re grateful.

Follow us on Instagram for our meeting dates and bee information: @lamorinda_bees

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