andrew milsteadAndrew Milstead, senior finance major in the UAB Collat School of Business and Business Honors student, hopes to bring natural apiaries to the Birmingham area through a project he’s pursuing as part of a national initiative to develop America’s next-generation leaders.

Milstead is one of 17 University of Alabama at Birmingham students selected to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University on March 6-8 at the University of Miami. To participate, students must develop Commitments to Action, which are new, specific and measurable initiatives that could benefit their own communities or communities around the world.

Founded in 2007 by former President Bill Clinton, CGIU engages campus leaders to address global issues in one of five focus areas: education, environmental and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health.

“Beekeeping runs in my family,” said Milstead, whose mother and grandfather also kept beehives. “Bees are an indication of a healthy environment, and traditional beekeeping recognizes the natural life force of bees in a way that modern beekeeping has ignored.”

Milstead developed his interest in apiculture into an independent study thesis for the Business Honors program that included sustainable pollination practices and financial projections for the business venture he hopes the project will launch.

“Students from diverse disciplines across our campus have long been involved in international initiatives that stem from our mission of teaching, research and service,” said Suzanne Austin, Ph.D., senior vice provost for Student and Faculty Success. “UAB is proud to work with CGIU to foster students’ ambitious projects that will serve local and international communities. We are very proud of and excited for these 17 outstanding students.”

During the next two years of the CGIU commitment, organization members will build, distribute and expand apiaries with sustainable pollinator gardens to various locations that have been affected by colony-collapse disorder.

“Efforts to promote sustainable apiculture seem to lack proper advocacy and we hope to change that with this project. Broadly, we aim to impact agrarian economics and the current apiculture industry by introducing a sustainable method of beekeeping that shifts the paradigm of modern beekeeping,” Milstead said.

At the CGIU meeting students get feedback on their ideas and learn steps they can take to fulfill their commitments.

“I love CGIU because it enables students to engage in something they’re passionate about that is not necessarily something that’s related to their major or their course of study,” said Libba Vaughn, UAB’s coordinator of service learning.

“The meeting teaches students skills such as fundraising and expands their network of people around the world who can help them make their idea happen,” Vaughn said.

The UAB students represent four schools and nine fields of study; 14 are undergraduate honors students, and three are graduate students.

by Meghan Davis