Last week I received some very exciting news: the first paper I worked on as a Ph.D. student has been published! It’s especially exciting because it has nothing to do with my research.
That’s right. The paper is not about my research. Well, not directly. But it does touch on something you all know me to be very passionate about: outreach and education.
It’s a book chapter entitled, “Insects in Education: creating tolerances for the world’s smallest citizens”, in a brand-spanking-new book called The Management of Insects in Recreation and Tourism.
(Pardon me for a moment…*ahem*…ZOMG I’M IN A BOOK!!!1!!…o.k., I’m good now.)
I was brought on board to this project late in 2010, after the editor, Harvey Lemelin, expressed interest in the work our research group was doing in northern Canada and the overarching theme of one of our research objectives: Northern Awareness, Education and Legacy. Since I spent a good chunk of my first field season doing outreach, education and training in a northern community, my advisor very generously suggested that I take the lead on the chapter.
Very simply, the book is a multidisciplinary look at the different ways that humans interact with insects. From the description:
[the book] challenges the notion that animals lacking anthropomorphic features hold little or no interest for humans. Throughout the book, the emphasis is on the innovators, the educators, the dedicated researchers and activists who, through collaboration across fields ranging from entomology to sociology and anthropology, have brought insects from the recreational fringes to the forefront of many conservation and leisure initiatives.
Our part of this book involves some case studies based on my and my team members’ experiences and successes working in northern communities and we challenge other entomologists to embrace the idea:
… educational opportunities involving insects engage youth and provide a tangible link to more formal science training and inquiry, and provide benefits for students and researchers. In additional to longer-term programs, informal or impromptu learning/teaching opportunities are abundant and require little effort from scientists to find and exploit them. Such opportunities could be as simple and brief as a chat with a local who happens to stop and make an inquiry about the researcher’s work, or a quick display of sweep netting to curious children. These impromptu teaching/learning moments take little time or effort, yet can make a profound impression on the participants, and help foster strong and positive relationships within the community. working in the north gain tremendous benefits from partnerships in local communities. …
The time commitment and equipment to pursue local partnerships is minimal, but the impact can be profound. We have experienced directly the benefits of using arthropods in an educational context in northern Canada, and our experiences suggest the opportunities are untapped. Given their abundance, diversity, importance in northern Canada, and ease and efficiency of sampling, arthropods are certainly one of the best “models” for pursuing further partnerships between schools, communities, and researchers.
As excited as I am about being a contributing factor to this project, it couldn’t have happened without the support and input of my co-authors Kristen Vinke, Donna Giberson and Chris Buddle. Thanks for everything, guys!
If you’d like to get your hands on a copy of the book, it’s going to be released in the U.S. in December, so you can place your order now and have one in time for Christmas! I can’t wait to read the other contributors’ work!