Biographies of Instructors

Bethany Ellen Smith has lived in Fort Smith, Arkansas, since 2003, and graduated from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith History program in 2010. She began her beekeeping journey in 2011, when a swarm from a friend’s bee yard needed to be rehomed.  The owner of that yard had become ill, and his family had no interest in caring for his precious honeybees. She had neither a beekeeping mentor nor any experience, and the colony quickly absconded. On his deathbed, he insisted that Beth make sure his bees came to no harm, and so she took up caring for them to the best of her ability. She has since established her own apiary, gained experience over the course of several years, and is now a colony and queen supplier, beekeeping mentor, swarm collector, provides licensed colony removal services, and produces hive products for sale.

Brad Staggs has been a beekeeper for 7 years. Currently he has 20 active hives most at his family, Apple Road Farm. He attended a class in 2016 on queen rearing taught by Cory Stevens and have been rearing his own queens as well as selling some of his extras since. For the last four years he’s placed bait hives all over the county to catch swarms. He also advertises all over Facebook about calling him to catch swarms. Many individuals, businesses, and schools have responded with swarm calls. Most of his queen rearing has been using these swarms to find the best stock for my area. I’m still working and am currently a nurse, but he have 10 years of experience as a certified teacher in Missouri.  He has a BSE and a BA in instrumental music as well as a BSN in nursing all from MSSU.  He did some graduate studies at SEMO while a teacher before he made the decision to change careers to nursing.

Eleanor Schumacher has worked as an Illinois Apiary Inspector for the Illinois Department of Agriculture since 2010. She served for several years as Secretary/Treasurer of Kaskaskia Country Beekeepers Consortium and St. Clair Beekeepers Association in Southern Illinois. She also served as editor for the Illinois State Beekeepers Association Newsletter from 2012-2015. Nearing completion of her studies and research in Pollination Ecology at University of Illinois, she expects to graduate with an M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences this May. Eleanor currently runs 40 hives, with a focus on honey production and queen rearing.

A native of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Steve House attended the University of Missouri- Columbia, Asbury Theological Seminary and Oral Roberts University, earning a B.S. in Recreation and Park Administration, Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Ministry degrees, respectively.  A recently-retired minister of the United Methodist Church, Steve served many congregations primarily in Southwest Missouri and North Kansas City areas.  For eight years he directed a Christian Ministry Studies degree program at Lindenwood University, St. Charles.  His love for teaching, backpacking, canoeing and camping ministry led to over 36 years leading and directing a variety of youth ministry events including Astronomy Camp and Colorado Trail Hiking.

Having special interests in the witness of creation to the character and purposes of God, Steve is passionate about exploring the complimentary roles of science and faith in understanding the universe and experiencing God.  An additional special interest is celebrating Christian unity among all followers of Jesus Christ.  His personal avocations include Celtic Christian spirituality, astronomy, telescope making, mineralogy, backpacking, nature photography, mountain fly-fishing, canoeing, herpetoculture, model railroading, bonsai, cichlid breeding, and beekeeping.  With his wife Terry, Steve created and directs Starfield Ministries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the witness of the starry heavens to people, including schools, colleges, and other nonprofit groups.

Steve graduated from armchair beekeeping to real bees when he located north of Holden, MO, in 2011.  Starting with three Italian and Carniolan hives, he now keeps about 30 hives in support of local and overseas service and ministry projects.  2017 saw the bottling of 600 pounds of pure and unprocessed local honey.  He is looking forward to a new project in 2018- converting all his Italians to Russian bees.

Scott Carter joined the army at a very young age and served ten years in infantry.  He worked for Illinois state as a corrections officer and has worked for Caterpillar as a welder. He lived in Colorado for 13 years and started his beekeeping hobby there (2 years). He has lived the majority of his life in Illinois and has been beekeeping here for an additional 7 years.  He has been a president of two bee clubs – Lincoln Land Beekeepers Association and Family Beekeepers of Illinois (25 members in 2 months time!).  He is also a member of the Illinois State Beekeepers. He is on the Board of Directors of three associations related to beekeeping and honeybees.

John Pashia is the vice president of the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association and member of the Missouri State and Saint Louis Beekeepers Associations.  John has been keeping bees for over a decade and is a third generation beekeeper who operates approximately 20 colonies in Pevely, MO, for honey production as well as raising nucleus colonies in the spring.  John is a honey bee enthusiast who enjoys spending time in the bee yard as well as the class room teaching beginners and also attends events speaking about the importance of pollinators.

James Rhein has been a beekeeper for 40+ years and manages 50+ colonies. He is the former President of the Arkansas Beekeepers Association. He is the President of 2 local clubs. He teaches beginning beekeeping classes, mentors beekeepers, and sells bees and beekeeping supplies.

Dr. Richard C. Wilson, F.A.A.O. graduated from the University of Missouri – St. Louis College of Optometry in 1997 where he received special training in pediatrics, ocular disease and contact lenses.  Prior to optometry school, Dr. Wilson graduated from Central Methodist College in 1986, taught public school in rural Missouri, and served in the U.S. Army during Desert Storm.  Dr. Wilson was one of the first optometrists to pass the American Board of Optometry’s Board Certification examination and has participated as principal investigator in dozens of clinical research projects regarding contact lenses, lens care solutions, and myopia reduction in children.

In addition to being a past president of the Missouri Optometric Association Board of Directors, Dr. Wilson also is the proud recipient of the MOA’s 2001 Young Optometrist of the Year award and in 2003 the MOA named him their Optometrist of the Year.  While serving as Adjunct Associate Clinical Professor at the UM – St. Louis College of Optometry, Dr. Wilson has helped educate and prepare the next generation of optometrists for their work in the profession.

Outside of optometry, Dr. Wilson enjoys singing and directing the Circuit Riders, a gospel men’s vocal group as well as playing trombone and bass.  Recently, he and his wife, Janie, have opened their Christmas tree and energy farm, Wilson’s Whispering Pines – including bed and breakfast, bee keeping, Christmas trees, pumpkins, chickens, obstacle course, hiking trails, observatory, tae kwon do studio, and retreat and wedding venue.

Jerry Freeman was born on 9/11/1944 and graduated high school in 1962. He started work for Georgia Pacific in 1964.  His beekeeping hobby and passion started in 1970. He has a BS degree in Management and retired from GP in 2004.