National honey queen visits Greencastle-Antrim schools

PAT FRIDGEN
Diane Jurchen, American Honey Queen, visited Greencastle-Antrim schools last week. Kindergartners Ethan Miller, Evan Pine and Christopher Knight Jr. were enthalled with a project to make honeybees out of paper plates.

She has likely heard jokes that she is the queen bee, but in reality Diane Jurchen is the American Honey Queen and an ambassador for the American Beekeeping Association. She was in town last week to speak to school children during a south-central Pennsylvania visit. She made presentations in the primary, elementary and middle schools, sharing her knowledge of honeybees and their effect on agriculture, as well as the value of honey as a food product.

Jurchen, 20, was accompanied by Rachel Bryson, Chambersburg, who was the American Honey Princess last year. Bryson remains active in the industry, serving the national association on the Honey Queen committee. She is also co-chair of the state's Honey Queen committee.

One message Jurchen brought the students addressed people's normal fear of the little insects. "We want to get across to kids that really, bees are docile and there's not a lot of reasons to be scared of them," she said.

She was impressed with the number of students she was able to meet in the Greencastle-Antrim School District. She also attended the Apple Festival Saturday and shared information and educational materials with the general public.

Besides Greencastle, Jurchen went to Gettysburg, Fairfield, Waynesboro, Mercersburg, Chambersburg and Fannet-Metal schools during the busy week. She attended the Franklin County Beekeepers Association banquet Tuesday, and brought along the newest member of royalty to help her with presentations the next day.

DeAnna Loudermilk, 17, State Line, was crowned county Honey Queen Oct. 6 at the banquet. The daughter of Robert and Sandy Loudermilk assisted with three classrooms of kindergarteners in one place at one time.

"It's just been one night," she said of her new title and responsibilities. "I'm a little overwhelmed. It's fun."

Jurchen, an Iowa native, is taking a semester off from Northwest Missouri State College to complete an intense travel schedule. She is majoring in elementary education, as is Loudermilk, who is taking classes at Hagerstown Community College.

A teacher complimented Jurchen on the amount of information she was able to dispense in a short amount of time.

"It was just enough for them to soak up," the queen replied.

She will give up her crown in January at the annual conference. She appreciated her opportunity to represent beekeepers at events across the country. Queens have been a public face to the industry for about 50 years. "It's an awesome program. It's been going long and strong."