Zawislak appointed assistant professor of apiculture, urban entomology for the Division of Agriculture
Bee expert adds urban entomology to duties
March 3, 2022
By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Zawislak adds urban entomology to bee duties
- Find Zawislak’s bee info
(Newsrooms — Name is pronounced ‘zuh-VISH-lock,’ with file photos of Zawislak https://flic.kr/p/G9fENE and https://flic.kr/p/2n6hhTS)
LITTLE ROCK — Had it not been for the honey bee, Jon Zawislak might be working in a newsroom.
Zawislak, better known as “Jon Z the Bee Guy,” is the newly appointed assistant professor of apiculture and urban entomology and extension specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“I actually started college on a completely different track, studying journalism and graphic arts, before my lifelong love of nature won over, and I switched to pursue a B.S. in botany,” he said. “After working for a professor in the Entomology Department in Fayetteville for a little while, I was introduced to honey bees, and I fell in love with them, and ended up going back to school to get a master’s degree.”
Zawislak was born in Little Rock and graduated high school in Conway before heading to Fayetteville for college. There, he earned his bachelor’s degree in botany in 2005, a master’s in entomology in 2008 and recently completed his Ph.D. in entomology, all from the University of Arkansas.
“I was studying honey bees for my master’s and was finishing right about the time everyone was beginning to panic about the loss of bees and all the impending gloom and doom associated with that,” he said. “When the Cooperative Extension Service advertised for a honey bee specialist, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time with just the right credentials.”
Zawislak joined the Cooperative Extension Service in 2008 as a bee specialist and apiculture instructor, which brought him and his family back to Little Rock.
“We are very excited to welcome Dr. Jon Zawislak to his new role with the Extension Service,” said Bob Scott, director of the Cooperative Extension Service. “Jon has already established himself as the state expert on bees and honey production. Now he brings that expertise as well as accepting new responsibilities in urban pest management to our Extension team.”
Ken Korth, head of the entomology and plant pathology department, said “We are so fortunate to have Jon moving into this position. His enthusiasm and knowledge in all areas of apiculture are already well known across the state.
“In his new role, which adds responsibility for urban entomology, he will continue to be a key member of our faculty and to serve stakeholders in numerous ways,” Korth said.
‘I love a good challenge’
Zawislak said he planned to maintain his programs on honey bees and pollinators, “but I'm looking forward to expanding into the area of urban insects as well. I love a good challenge, and hope to exceed everyone's expectations."
"My initial background in writing and design has helped me tremendously in creating effective publications and educational programs here at the extension service,” he said. “I'm the type of person who never stops trying to learn. Once I began to do more research here, I decided to enroll in school again, and earn my doctorate.
“Extension is very supportive of employees continuing our education,” Zawislak said. “I want to be able to return the favor now, and make sure they feel it was worth it letting me do this.”
Zawislak began his doctorate studies at Fayetteville in 2015, earning his degree in December 2021.
“It was not without its challenges,” he said. In addition to working full time for the Cooperative Extension Service, Zawislak was conducting research that had to be rescaled due to pandemic-induced remote work. He and his wife Vera have eight children, all of them home-schooled. In addition, he and Vera run a bee-based business, Walnut Valley Honey Company.
“Through it all I couldn't have succeeded at any of it without my wonderful wife,” Zawislak said.
In addition to offering classes on beekeeping, he will continue to contribute to the "Ask the Pest Crew" page where the public can submit questions about insects. Zawislak also maintains a Bee Blog.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media contact: Mary Hightower