Speaker and Panel Discussion

Tuesday, March 20th at 6:30 p.m., Greenville Museum of Art


Loretta McGrath of Bee Genius Honey has been keeping honeybees as a top-bar beekeeper since 2006. She practices holistic beekeeping and stewards her honeybees by maintaining her hives free of miticides, antibiotics or other chemicals. The honey from her hives is raw and unfiltered to preserve all nutrients and enzymes that the bees produce. She has been a member of the Sangre de Cristo Beekeepers Group in New Mexico since its inception in 2006.

Her latest endeavor is directing the development of the Pollinator Partners Project, an initiative to protect and support healthy honeybees and other pollinators by creating pollinator-friendly habitats throughout New Mexico. The project engages with community members to become better “food citizens” by growing or purchasing foods and plants that are “pesticide-free,” and advocating for policies and cultural practices that protect human and honeybee health from toxic chemicals.

As an organic gardener and former designer of ecologic gardens and landscapes, she delights in the magical genius of honeybees. The project’s aim is to support healthy pollinator habitats on farms, and community and school garden sites and wild places throughout New Mexico. Members of the project are working with beekeepers, farmers and gardeners, youth and parents, and other citizens throughout co0hosting educational events and trainings. Collaborators are also developing user-friendly educational resources and creating access to important research and public policy opportunities, while supporting the development of local and national networks and coalitions.

As a sustainability consultant and educator, she works with local non-profits on strategic planning, research and policy projects to support local food system development and healthy human communities and living systems. She has a taught a wide range of college and university-level courses for more than 18 years in the fields of sustainability, environmental leadership, and creative process. Since 2007, Loretta has been teaching courses in sustainability studies and environmental ethics to enthusiastic students at the Santa Fe Community College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Dale Aycock is a back yard beekeeper  (or hobbyist beekeeper). He started with one hive almost 8 years ago and increased the number of hives to between 5 to 8 hives in his yard at any given time. He sells out of honey every year and receives a lot of compliments as to how nice the honey is that his bees produce. Last season was his best year with 60+ gallons from five hives. He does the “hands on”  work with the bees and his wife helps by straining honey into containers after he has extracted it from the combs. He moved to  Pitt County when he was offered a job at East Carolina University and has been here for a little over 31 years, working in the Department of Comparative Medicine the entire  time.

Charlotte Fitz is the executive director of the Greenville Museum of art.  She took over managing the museum and its educational programs in 2007.  Initially she thought this would be a temporary position, but in 2009 became the full time executive director. Charlotte is originally from Hazard Kentucky.   Before coming to Greenville, she lived in Chapel Hill and Durham, NC for ten years where she worked as a rare book appraiser and apprenticed for a potter.  She has a BA degree in English from Guilford College, in Greensboro, NC.  She also has a BFA in Ceramics and a MAT in Art Education from East Carolina University.  She has taught in a variety of art centers and schools, including Washington High School and at Sadie Saulter Elementary. Along with being the GMA Executive Director, Charlotte is also a ceramic artist.  Her others passions include traveling, reading, good food and animals.

David Kimmel was born and raised in Pennsylvania. Kimmel received his BS in Biology from Pennsylvania State University and PhD in Marine Estuarine and Environmental Science from the University  of Maryland. He joined ECU in 2008 and is a member of the Department of Biology and Institute for Coastal Science and Policy at East Carolina University. Kimmel is a biological oceanographer whose research is focused on coastal and estuarine systems. While an undergraduate at Penn State University, Kimmel worked as a honeybee researcher for two years, studying the response of four different genetic strains of honeybees to both tracheal and Varroa mites.

Tawnya Laveta is the Programs Director at Farm to Table in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For the past seven years, Tawnya has been helping local communities in the southwest develop their food and farming initiatives to serve local needs. Farm to Table’s programs include Farm to School education, connecting farmers and ranchers to local market opportunities, beginning farmer training programs that include business and financial planning, and civic engagement trainings to improve food and agriculture policy-making, locally and nationally. Through the Pollinator Partners Project in New Mexico, Tawnya has begun to connect local food and farming practitioners, policy-makers, and educators to resources that benefit honeybees, pollinators, and healthy land stewardship.

Cass Wigent is a Greenville local with two degrees in biology from East Carolina University. He studied and worked with plants, reptiles, and amphibians. He, his wife, and their two year old daughter are re-landscaping their home almost entirely with edible fruiting trees and shrubs. They keep a vegetable garden and have installed a solar hot water system for their home. Cass rides his bicycle to work at Pitt County Memorial Hospital where he and his wife work as nurses. This year their family adopted an almost exclusively vegetarian diet for health and sustainability reasons. They believe energy issues are forcing economics to be more local and sustainable, and are interested in learning as much as they can about sustainable ways of supporting our families and our community. They currently keep three bee hives and this, they hope, will be their third year to successfully keep bees through the winter. Cass and his family currently use the standard pesticide dependent system and are eager to hear more about alternatives.

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