California is using its highway system to save lives.

Human lives, yes. But first ... bee lives.



Bees are in danger. Their population is rapidly declining. Why care? Well, without bees using their sweet feet to pollinate all those delicious plants we eat, those plants die. And humans depend on pollinators, like bees, for about one-third of our food. Plus, beekeepers in America lost over 40% of their colonies from 2015 to 2016 from 2015 to 2016, so the problem is pretty urgent.

You can do the math! It's sad, upsetting math.

Hang on there, little buddy! Image by JD Baskin/Flickr.

But wait! Highways are about to come to the rescue.

Some of the folks who run California's transit systems want to turn the shoulders of highways into magical bee paradises.

Keith Robinson, whose main job is just to keep roadsides from eroding (if roadsides erode, then next up is roads), says this whole mission started with erosion. He and his team of landscape architects want to keep the over 250,000 acres of California highway roadside from eroding, which has become a major problem.

Their solution is a pilot program they hope will also save bee lives at the same time, which is a win-win.

They're improving the soil on the roadside.


Compost realness! Image via California Department of Transportation.

"We want to make sure that [the] soil sustains native plants and creates favorable conditions that encourage pollinator plants to not only to grow but thrive," Robinson recently told folks at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. Hearings in D.C. are often held to bring to light important but overlooked conversations that matter to Congress and to the people they represent.

The plan also maximizes the effect of compost in that soil — the better the compost, the more native plants will grow. And if those native plants outgrow non-native plants, fewer herbicides are needed ... which means there are fewer herbicides killing bees!

The team is even using the barely-used snowblowers (this is California, after all) to spread compost! I love it.

This initiative has politicians of all stripes ready to get on board.

Get a good look. These guys are at risk. Image via Flickr/HealthAliciousNess

Congressman Jeff Denham is a Republican who represents California's 10th district. He's also an almond farmer who needs bees and pollinators for his own livelihood, as well as those of his constituents. As he said at the D.C. hearing, "Making sure we have healthy pollinators is critical to a state like California.”

Could this team bee any more resourceful!?

This bee is laughing at my pun. Image via Micolo J/Flickr.

I love that these folks are using existing infrastructure (their highways), all built in the '50s if not earlier, to solve a problem that didn't even exist when American tax dollars paid for it!

Robinson is determined to spread this plan to other states too. His team has developed a plant selection tool, TransPLANT, to help landscape architects choose sustainable, pollinator-friendly plants — because pollinator-friendly plants equal more bees and happy bees. They've also developed a roadside management toolbox to help other transportation departments learn from California's methods.

Sing it with me: "Life is a highway. I wanna ride it and save bees!" Image via Mark Sebastian/Flickr.

Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that these solutions will completely fix the problems of the quickly shrinking populations of bees in California. As Eric Silva, from the American Honey Producers Association, said at the committee hearing, “We’re losing half the bees over the course of the year."

But California isn't giving up.

I love it when we find solutions for big problems hidden in places we see everyday ... like highways. These are highways that America built when my mom was a baby. With programs like Caltrans', those same highways could serve my grandchildren by creating a more fruitful, bee-full earth. That kind of creativity is so exciting to see.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

Keep Reading Show less

Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

Keep Reading Show less