Sweet Virginia Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 educational organization. Our mission is to make the world a healthier and happier place by teaching kids about honey bees and giving away sunflowers to folks in care facilities.
Honey bees have fascinated humanity across cultures around the world since the beginning of recorded history. In them, even young children can begin to sense that purpose permeates everything and that the world and its creatures are ordered, wondrous, and awe-inspiring. We believe that each generation has an obligation to the next to pass on this awareness. Honey bees happen to showcase it beautifully. We believe that one of the best investments we can make on behalf of honey bees, the crops they pollinate, the Earth’s environment overall and the health and happiness of future generations is to point out to children examples of the interconnected order and beauty in the natural world.
Throughout the ages, people have associated Sunflowers with happiness. Honey bees love them, too. We grow lots of sunflowers at our honey bee sanctuary on the outskirts of Washington, DC. Once the bees have had their fill, while the blooms are still spectacular, we cut the flowers and deliver them to nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and folks who are homebound because of age or illness. We believe that flowers, especially fresh cut from a local farm, mean a lot to people. And no flower can lift someone’s spirits quite like sunflowers. We believe that a world in which more people grow, cut, and give away sunflowers is a happier world. We encourage and support others around the world to join us.
Sweet Virginia educators have taught over ten thousand elementary school students with our in-class program. In late 2016, we launched Hive Alive! Digital to share the wonder of honey bees with children throughout the world through our global on-line forum. Since launching our Community Flowers program we have delivered over a hundred thousand flowers. They have made a lot of people happy.
Over the past 25 years, Dan has served as Founder, Chairman, Chief Executive, Board Member and Advisor to multiple technology startups that created hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions in revenue. Now he’s turned his attention to education, focusing on opening young eyes to the beauty and order in nature. Dan believes that today, separated more than ever from the natural world, we must consciously foster in children love and appreciation for the symphony of life in nature. Dan graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Helen is a lifelong learner fueled by an innate curiosity and exploration which she contributes to growing up on her parents’ small Maryland farm. She is a nonprofit executive with more than 20 years of management experience working for two high-profile trade associations, an education foundation (K-12), professional membership societies and a private nonprofit (pre-K). She holds a Master of Science, Information & Telecommunications Systems Management and a Bachelor of Science, Food Science from the University of Maryland. In her spare-time, you can find Helen biking/hiking through Rock Creek Park or helping out on the family farm.
Jeanette is an educator dedicated to making learning more engaging for students of all ages. Much like a honey bee, she has held a number of different jobs, but is always found at the intersection of students, animals, and nature. She was a founding teacher at an Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound school and created a disaster relief program that rescued over 1000 animals from natural and man-made disasters. She holds a Master of Arts, Education in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Colorado.
Ian spent many years in the Philippines keeping honey bees, but was met with few opportunities to pursue this passion professionally upon his arrival in the U.S. Luckily, his love of bees never left him, and he came upon the Sweet Virginia apiary by chance. He immediately knocked on Dan’s door, eager to get involved, and shared his story with Sweet Virginia’s founder. The rest is history, and Ian has been our dedicated beekeeper ever since.
Jacqueline is a dedicated naturalist and ecologist who grew up in Northern Virginia. She has worked at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and its Prairie Ridge Research Facility, and has conducted research in a range of topics from ecotourism in Costa Rica to invertebrate diversity. She is excited to be educating future generations about the issues bees face, why they’re important, and what we can do to help. Jacqueline graduated magna cum laude from Salem College and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies-Conservation Ecology.
Maureen is an energetic development professional with more than a decade of experience in fundraising. She brings her energy and dynamic thinking to drive annual funding, donor relations, cultivation, stewardship, major gifts and corporate partnerships. She oversees a variety of special events and fosters strong and lasting relationships with our donors. Maureen has tremendous ability to organize and execute on funding the mission. She holds a Master of Arts, Education & Human Development from The George Washington University.
Nicolas is a student with a mission to educate the public about pressing environmental issues. Combining his passion and imaginative thinking, he brings another perspective to the environmental field. He has volunteered for various local and national non-profits and currently works for the National Park Service. In June of 2015, he was given the Fairfax County Student Peace Award and was also chosen as the Fairfax County EQAC Board’s Student Alternate. Currently, Nicolas is a student at George Mason University seeking his Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Sustainability Studies, with a concentration in Conservation and a minor in Urban and Suburban Studies
President, Florida Association for the Gifted
Master Beekeeper, Prince William County Beekeeper Association
Partner , Nixon & Vanderhye, P.C.
Co-Founder, Purple Feet Foundation
Vice President, Discovery Education
Owner, Founding Farmers Restaurant Group
Chief Executive Officer, ILM Capital