Fort Wayne SOUP hosted a Virtual SOUPer Stars event for 3 weeks in November that pit past winners against each other for the ultimate pitch competition. This event marked the organization’s final event of 2020. To date, it has awarded $22,875 to a variety of projects that have positively impacted our community.

For SOUPer Stars, eight past winners and fan favorites were matched up in a bracket style tournament, facing off for three rounds. The final two met in the Championship Round to compete for a chance to win half the proceeds from the event, plus matching sponsorship funds, and the title of THE SOUPer Star. The other half of the proceeds will help Fort Wayne SOUP pursue its 501(c)3 status, which will allow the organization to expand its programming and attract additional sponsors.

SOUPer Stars Participants were:
Jennifer Norris Hale, Mission Motherhood (2020)
Lisa Fabian, St. Joseph Missions (2020)
David Buuck, CASS Housing (2019)
Alex Hall, Art This Way (2017)
Juan Willams, WeFam (2018)
John Springer, iheartpizza (2019)
Rich Hoppe, Slam City Skate Park (2018)
Meg Ryan, Southwest Honey Co. (2019)

Southwest Honey Co. and St. Joseph Missions met in the Championship round, with Southwest Honey Co. bringing in the most votes, winning the title of The SOUPer Star and walking away with $2,750.

“We were honored to be selected to be a part of Fort Wayne SOUP’s SOUPer Stars competition,” said Megan Ryan, Education Director & Co-lead Beekeeper with Southwest Honey Co. “For us, it was a spirited three-week competition and our volunteers really got into sharing and promoting the fundraising / voting on social media. The intense anticipation of waiting to see the statistics of who was winning in each bracket each night was one of our favorite parts. In the end, we were proud to participate as it highlighted many community organizations and causes, as well as to help raise funds to help Fort Wayne SOUP get a step closer to a non-profit status and gain a better footing in the Fort Wayne community.”

Ryan continued, “we are sincerely appreciative to all of our bee-loved supporters and to those throughout the community who donated to support our mission of teaching children about the wonderful world of pollinators, their important connection to the food we eat, and what they can do to help the declining populations of pollinators. Our program is unique to the nation, as we engage students with our interactive, scientific and most importantly fun, ‘Explore the Honey Bee’ K-12 summer events. With the winning funds, we hope to reach thousands of students in 2021 and continue to help our community take notice of how even small, underappreciated things like bees and butterflies make such a large impact on our daily lives to benefit our local food, famers and our planet.”

Southwest Honey Co. project description:
Pollinators are declining at alarming rates and it greatly impacts everything in our ecosystem from feed for livestock all the way up to the food that finds its way to your dinner plate each night. Have you noticed the rising prices of fruits, nuts and vegetables? They all depend on pollination from those little insects that we too often take for granted. Can you imagine paying $5 or more for a single apple?

Throughout the past 5 years, in response to this quickly growing problem, volunteers at Southwest Honey Co. have hosted immersive, fun and hands-on events for over 4,500 students of all ages to tell the fascinating story of why we need pollinators and how the average person can do their part to help. This unique-to-the-nation program has real-world impacts that have been proven through a USDA study and has been prized in the local media and even national trade magazines. Each vote helps us reach more classrooms, scouting groups, homeschool cohorts, conservation organizations and countless other students in Northeast Indiana. Just like the great impact of a single bee, your small gesture can create big changes to benefit our local agriculture and help children connect with where their food comes from. We bee-lieve that education can create a positive change for humanity and our environment!

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