Beekeeper of the Year and Pioneer Award are awards that can be won only once. Beekeeper of the Year is for a WHPA member who has contributed much to the association and the beekeeping industry. The Pioneer Award is for someone that has been a longtime beekeeper and in good standing. Other special recognition awards are for individual contributions to beekeeping and WHPA (examples: Education Award, Friendship Award, Above & Beyond). The Youth Awards recognize Wisconsin youth who are nominated for their efforts in beekeeping.

All award recipients must be nominated by WHPA members and are determined by committee made up of past Beekeeper of the Year recipients.

2016 Beekeepers of the Year – Nick Thill in West Bend, WI

Nick Thill was recognized as the 2016 Beekeeper of the Year at the annual fall convention held November 3-5 in Fond du Lac, WI. Thill of West Bend, WI is the owner and operator of Honey Grove Apiaries. He began beekeeping at the age of 12, working alongside his aunt, Margaret Ahlers, who founded the business in 1956. Thill took over the operation in 2013 and runs about 200 hives throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Thill chairs the WHPA’s State Fair committee where Wisconsin honey and products from the hive are sold at the WI State Fair. The Beekeeper of the Year award is given annually to an association member who has made significant contributions to the honey industry in Wisconsin, is an active leader in the state association, and who stands out as a model of good husbandry, business dealings, and respected in the community. Congratulations, Nick!

2016 Pioneer Award – Lois & Wally Nass

Wally and Lois Nass, of Watertown with the Pioneer Award for their service and leadership in state and local beekeeping organizations

2016 Appreciation Award – Dave & Sandy Marcy in Ogdensburg, WI

Dave and Sandy Marcy of Waupaca, with the Appreciation Award for their support and leadership with the state honey queen program

2016 Education Award – Peter Underwood – Whitewater, WI

Peter Underwood of Whitewater with the Education Award for his advocacy and education of local beekeeping

2016 Youth Award

Katrina Pokorny of Waupun and Natalie Abbott of Chippewa Falls were recognized with the Youth Award. Pokorny, a member of Waupun FFA and Achievers 4-H Club has developed her own business, “Sassy Kat’s Bees Wax,” selling lip balms, scented hand creams and honey soaps. She also serves as co-editor of a monthly newsletter for the Dodge-Jefferson Co. Beekeepers and volunteers at the state and county fair to educate and promote honey. Abbott, owner of West Hill Honey was also honored for her entrepreneurial achievements and service to the WI Honey Producers, despite her apiary being wiped out in a 2015 bear attack.

Special Recognition Award – Kimberly Kester

American Honey Queen Kimberly Kester with a Special Recognition Award for her service in representing the honey and beekeeping industry across the United States.