MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A unique environmental student leadership program connects kids with nature, giving them real responsibility.

These lessons in gardening and farming have created quite a buzz.

Asia Dawson is a certified beekeeper. The 14-year-old from Miami Gardens works to breed queen bees to increase the bee population at the Patch of Heaven Sanctuary in Redland. She’ll be the first to admit it has its challenges.

“When I got stung on my face it was very memorable,” she said.

Linda Freeman is Asia’s mentor. She heads Generation 20/50, a student leadership program at Trinity Church which partners with Florida International University’s College of Medicine and the Children’s Trust. Freeman said she loves the truly innovative curriculum.

“We are focusing on pollinators; bats, bees, and butterflies, all three of those are important to the South Florida ecosystem,” she said.

A youth development program for students in 6th through 12th grade, Generation 20/50 has a classroom like no other with lessons in leadership, life skills, and environmental stewardship.

“One thing I can say about bees, they are very important to this world. There’s a study that says without bees in four years this world would be done, we would have no food, no fruits, no vegetables,” said Asia.

Working up close with the bees requires caution and patience.

“Bees act based on your behavior, if your calm then they’re calm and they’re relaxed,” said Freeman.

Freeman teaches her students to practice mindfulness to avoid getting stung and for daily challenges.

“To use mindfulness when we are very anxious, like when we are taking a test, I can just sit there and calm down and focus on the test,” said Asia.

“I never knew I would be able to do these things, Pastor Linda, she’s the queen bee,” she added.

Freeman said connecting teens on this level with nature, the reward is both instant and forward-thinking.

“Seeing them grow and understand that they are capable of doing more than they think they can,” said Freeman.

“I doubt myself, but I’m willing to learn new things,”

“The kids that I know now in the year 2050 will be the adults, so what will they need to know to lead the world,” said Freeman.

If you are a mentor and would like to share your story with us, please email us at mentoringmatters@cbs.com.

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