August 17, 2011
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Contact: Gretl Plessinger
|Inmates learn the art of Beekeeping.|
Lake Butler - Inmates at Reception and Medical Center are learning about beekeeping thanks to a new inmate re-entry program in conjunction with the Florida Department of Agriculture. As part of the program, inmates are learning how to maintain a colony of honey bees and collect honey. After an inmate completes the program and is released from prison, he has an immediate job prospect with commercial beekeeper Dave Mendes.
The program began in July with 10 bee hives donated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and 20 inmates. Upon completion, inmates earn a training certificate and the possibility of a rewarding career.
“Inmates who have a skill and a job are less likely to return to prison, so programs like this advance public safety,” said Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Ed Buss.
Beekeeper and business owner Dave Mendes has guaranteed each inmate who successfully completes the program a job interview upon release from prison.
“I am very pleased to be a part of this program,” said Dave Mendes. “The need for new beekeepers has grown in recent years, and FDACS has done a tremendous job putting this together. The beekeeping industry needs more programs like this.”
Developed in partnership with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, this is the first and only beekeeping program in the Florida Prison system.
“Florida’s honey bee industry has a tremendous impact on the economy and contributes significantly to the production of food and the viability of our natural ecosystems,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. “Jobs in agriculture are diverse and can be very rewarding. We look forward to working with the Department of Corrections to pursue every opportunity that promotes the health of the honey bee industry and creates long-term job opportunities in the industry.”
Currently one of every three inmates released from the Florida prison system returns to prison within three years. Through programs like this one, the Department of Corrections is focusing on teaching inmates viable job skills that will lead them to productive jobs and law-abiding lives upon release.
For additional information contact the Department of Corrections, Office of Public Affairs (850) 488-0420 or Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 888-397-1517.