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Nation’s First Beekeeper Apprentices Recognized at Graduation Ceremony

October 1, 2021

The nation’s first ever beekeeper apprentices, along with new apprentices in several other career fields, were recognized at a special graduation ceremony October 1 at St. Ambrose Cellars and Sleeping Bear Farms in Benzie County. John McMahon and Abram Stoltz completed a registered apprenticeship program and earned a nationally recognized credential indicating their proficiency in the beekeeping industry. McMahon and Stoltz spent two years in work-based learning and technical education related to beekeeping. Sleeping Bear Farms worked with Northwest Michigan Works! to establish the registered apprenticeship program for beekeepers.

"When you do have someone with an interest in beekeeping you make sure you hang on to them," said Dave Nesky, vice president of Sleeping Bear Apiaries and the beekeeper apprenticeship mentor. "It's just a win-win situation when you invest in your employees."

"I've been beekeeping for 16 years and the apprenticeship gave me the credentials nationally to tell everybody what I am so good at," said John McMahon, a beekeeper apprenticeship graduate. "Now to actually have a piece of paper that says this is what I'm good's very humbling and self-fulfilling." 

Recent apprenticeship graduates from the Medical Assistant program at Kalkaska Memorial Health Center, and the Office Manager and Injection Molding Machine Setter programs at MR Products in Copemish were also recognized at the graduation ceremony.

Registered apprenticeships are offered through the U.S. Department of Labor and are a proven training method for employers to build a talent pipeline of highly skilled, educated employees. Northwest Michigan Works! provides technical assistance and administrative support for registered apprenticeships, including development and implementation guidance.

Photos: Top Right, John McMahon, Beekeeper Apprenticeship Graduate
               Left, Abram Stoltz, Beekeeper Apprenticeship Graduate
                                                                                                      Below, Apprenticeship graduates from Kalkaska Memorial, MR Products, and Sleeping Bear Farms

Watch the video below to hear what the Beekeeper Apprenticeship Graduates and their mentor have to say about the apprenticeship program.


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