Beekeeper Receives Order of the Longleaf Pine

November/December 2008 • Category: Achievements & Lifestyles Print This Page Print This Page

For his work promoting beekeeping, Edgecombe County Farm Bureau’s Irvin Rackley recently received the state’s highest civilian honor—the Order of the Longleaf Pine.

The award was presented during the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association summer meeting. Rackley is also a longtime member of North Carolina Farm Bureau’s Beekeeper, Pollination and Honey Advisory Committee.

He has been a pioneer in beekeeping and has also been a driving force behind the North Carolina Zoo’s honeybee exhibit, which is scheduled to open in May.

“I was floored,” Rackley says of the award. “I thanked the people for doing it, and I told them it really belonged to them.”

Rather than focusing on the award, Rackley remains a tireless fundraiser for his pet project—the zoo exhibit.

North Carolina Farm Bureau has also contributed to the exhibit, and Rackley says he values that support, as well North Carolina Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten’s advocacy toward getting the award.

In his letter to the governor, Wooten heralded Rackley, saying, “It’s rare to see the perseverance, dedication and determination that Irvin E. Rackley has shown in his mission to serve North Carolina’s beekeepers and apiary industry through the construction of the permanent bee exhibit at the N.C. Zoo.”

Rackley’s nomination for the award was bolstered by many letters from his friends in beekeeping, at the N.C. Zoo, and in the extended agricultural community.

In another letter, Zoo Director David M. Jones says, “Nobody in North Carolina has done more to advocate for the importance and value of the honeybee to agriculture than Irvin Rackley.”
And bees are quite important to agriculture. In fact, the bee is worth an estimated $15 billion annually to agriculture in the U.S.

Rackley is one of just 12 living men and women in the state who have achieved the highest rank of beekeeper in North Carolina—master craftsman beekeeper. The honor requires all the knowledge of a master beekeeper, but with additional requirements for research and public service.

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