Lamar senior teaches students about bees at HISD farm

Amongst the blooming plants and swarming insects that lay claim to a sprawling green space in Southwest Houston, stood the youngest of instructors who was developing a buzz all her own.

In her final weeks as a senior at Lamar High School, Lisa Rollinson was tapped to lead educational workshops for nearly two dozen students at the Food and Agriculture Literacy Center at Mykawa Farm.

As one of just five experts selected for the job, Rollinson received the honor after being designated by the Texas Department of Agriculture as one of 12 Health Ambassadors for a Ready Texas. The designation recognizes teens who advocate for healthy lifestyles.

“I was excited to get the invitation to present at Mykawa Farm and share my knowledge of bees and how they pollinate,” Rollinson said, acknowledging her agriculture teacher for fostering her interests. “Getting students to experience hands-on activities is where understanding begins.”

The Food and Agriculture Literacy Center at Mykawa Farm is a working educational farm that integrates nutrition and food science with core curriculum to provide students with hands-on learning experiences.

Part of the farm’s first-ever Food and Agriculture Day, the rotating workshops allowed students to learn about user-friendly gardens, water conservation, and nutrients found in healthy meals, as well as the importance of bees and pollination, a topic Rollinson spoke on monthly at Lamar.

Director of Food and Agriculture Literacy Nan Cramer said the 18-year-old’s experience as former president of the Lamar High School FFA and docent at the Cockrell Butterfly Center made her a great fit.

“We want students to learn about all aspects of food production, including the sustainability of caring for insects and animals with the soil,” Cramer said.

As part of her session, Rollinson displayed a mobile beehive, prompting students to gasp and excitedly ask: “Which one is the queen?” Rollinson explained the influence queen bees have on a colony and discussed the nutritional value of honey, giving some students their very taste of the sweet nectar.

She also had students collect pretend pollen in the field and make bee bread — a bee’s fuel source — using a red and white mixture of corn starch and fruit nectar.

“Urban agriculture is very important to our students and the community,” Nutrition Services Officer Betti Wiggins said. “We hope to involve more students, elected officials, colleges and business partners to share our deep appreciation for farm-to-table programs.”