Borkowski Buzzes Bee-tween Careers
Starting over, entering a second career, and returning to school can be daunting for many adults, yet for Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA) student Robert "Bob" Borkowski, it has also been rewarding. Borkowski was honored last night as the IAA’s Outstanding Student by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) Alumni Association, at its annual banquet held at the University of Maryland Riggs Alumni Center.
After 29 years of service in the military and law enforcement, Borkowski aspired to turn a honey bee hobby into a business. An avid beekeeper since 1998, Borkowski says his hobby started as a 4-H project with his son Bradley. After retiring, he had more time to devote to his passion and enrolled in the IAA to gain an education and hone his skills.
Borkowski enrolled as a Sustainable Agriculture student in the fall of 2014 and will graduate this semester. He admits that the course work was hard and that he had to put in some long hours studying, but it has paid off with a GPA above a 3.0. Borkowski’s academic advisor Meredith Epstein says, “Bob has designed a course of study for himself that is well balanced between agricultural science, production skills, business management, and service. He is both reverent toward traditional knowledge and seeks to widen his view of the agricultural world.”
And during his two years at the IAA, he did widen his agricultural world to include farmers markets, which he intends to pursue part-time after graduation. Last summer, Borkowski interned on-campus at the Farmers Market at Maryland. He assisted the market manager with everything from setup to customer service to marketing to financial analysis. He is currently helping to take the campus farmers market to the next level through social media, community building among the market vendors, and partnerships across campus.
“Throughout his time as a Terp, Bob has excelled in and outside of the classroom, provided service and leadership to the campus, and cultivated a strong community of support for himself and others,” says Epstein.
IAA faculty and staff all agree that Borkowski transitioned smoothly into the IAA, built camaraderie, and provided help to the department and AGNR which included staffing exhibit booths at Maryland Day and the AGNR Open House, recruiting for the IAA at veterans’ events, and volunteering at the Terp Farm Harvest Festival. Borkowski is actively involved in extracurricular activities, especially the PollinaTerps Beekeeping Club. He cares for hives across campus, establishes flowery food sources for the bees, and educates future beekeepers. Last fall, he presented an Introduction to Beekeeping workshop and is planning another one this month.
“Bob’s story is an inspiration, and his joy and dedication are infectious,” smiles Epstein.
^IAA Director Glori Hyman with Bob Borkowski and Meredith Epstein at the 2016 AGNR Alumni Awards ceremony.
See more event photos on Flickr.