AMES, Iowa – Randall Cass has worked with bees and pollinators across the globe. That international experience has led Cass to Ames, Iowa, where he has been hired as an entomologist by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
“This is an exciting and unique opportunity for ISU Extension and Outreach as we haven’t had an extension specialist focused on beekeeping and pollinators before,” Cass said. “The main project I will be working on is examining the health of honey bees and native bees in prairies and soybean fields. We are looking at the impact bees have on soybean production and the bees’ health as they move from fields to prairies at the end of the season.”
The project will also consist of comparing and monitoring the impact that available forage has on bee health.
The position and project are funded through a United States Department of Agriculture grant for research and extension projects to sustain healthy populations of pollinators. Research will be conducted in partnership with the Toth Laboratory of Integrative Insect Sociobiology.
Cass’ previous work has combined field experience, lab research and extensive survey design and implementation. His international development background provides a large amount of experience developing social research tools such as surveys, and identifying and monitoring indicators of project success.
“I have been fortunate to have a broad range of experiences with different styles of beekeeping,” Cass said. “A large part of my job at Iowa State will be measuring the impact of the work being done.”
Cass has spent the last three years working with Catholic Relief Services in Guatemala and El Salvador, providing technical expertise on projects impacting soil fertility management, agroforestry, bio-intensive gardens and beekeeping. He worked with non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to present programming and develop response plans to emergencies.
He also has extensive research experience, working as a research staff assistant at the Harry Laidlaw Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis. Cass also spent time as a graduate student researcher in Ecuador and Ghana.
Cass worked in Chile developing, implementing and analyzing a survey exploring obstacles for small-scale beekeepers as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar.
Cass holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies from Willamette University and a master’s degree in international agricultural development from the University of California, Davis.