Nick Kaminski is from Kent City, MI and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps from 2003 to 2014. Shortly after fulfilling his service in the Marine Corps, Nick realized a very different passion: beekeeping.
Nick has been a beekeeper for six years. In 2014, he started with only a handful of hives, and quickly became obsessed, as he describes it, with the entire process. He yearned to learn as much as he could in order to master and maximize his efficiency as a beekeeper, ultimately leading him to Michigan State University’s Heroes to Hives program.
“I participated in the program for the free beekeeping education for veterans,” states Nick. “Heroes to Hives really helped me round out my knowledge base. After this program, I decided to increase my level of beekeeping.”
So, he did. Nick quickly enrolled in a veteran’s business class called the Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab orchestrated by Grand Valley State University. This business class caused Nick to step outside of his comfort zone and learn hands-on startup education. At one point in the course, all the students had the option of participating in a pitch competition. Nick quickly took advantage of the opportunity to strengthen his business plan and was awarded first place, winning an impressive $5,000 of startup capital.
Thanks to this success, Nick gained the confidence to not only train veterans for the Heroes to Hives MSU program, but also purchase more bees. He has been breeding queen bees since. In fact, this past year Nick made his first migration to Arizona and is looking forward to increasing his farm’s number of hives again in January.
In addition to beekeeping and playing a large role in the Heroes to Hives program’s local success, Nick is a coordinator for the Veterans-in-Agriculture Network.
Nick describes the organization as fantastic, stating, “It helps link veterans to resources that people can use to better themselves and their farms. The Vets-in-Ag Network is a great collection of resources and educational links for people to navigate their first steps of being a farmer.”
Nick’s specific tasks as a coordinator include assisting with events, establishing new lines of communication, and creating educational webinars for members. Nick looks forward to holding in-person field days and workshops again soon.
The GreenStone community has been inspired by Nick’s willingness to act as a leader through his farm, positions and experiences in Heroes to Hives and Veterans-in-Agriculture Network, and time serving in the Marine Corps. Nick truly encourages not only veterans, but all individuals interested in farming to get their hands dirty and take advantage of the multiple opportunities of agriculture.
“If you are a veteran who wants to become involved in farming, follow your heart and your passion because that is what will make you successful! Do not be rigid in your expectations and see where it takes you,” Nick summarized.
For more information on Nick’s farm, Hickory Tree Farm Apiaries, click here.