Social responsibility is very important to me. As a scientist, I feel that I have the duty to reach out to the broader society to share my passion for insects, explain why science matters, and how it shapes the world in which we live. This is even more applicable to the extent that scientists are funded by public money.
In this regard, I have tried to reach out to broader communities other than peers. One of my primary methods of engagement with the community during my doctoral work was as a tour guide and volunteer at the MSU
Entomology Department’s Bug House. I talked about the morphology, ecology, and life history of insects in an interactive and engaging manner to pre K through college-aged students. The primary audience were elementary-aged students. Tours consisted of 15-20 min lectures on the basics of insects, then splitting up the students into groups to hold live arthropods, including tarantulas, beetles, millipedes, scorpions and more. In addition, I volunteered at open houses for the Bug House, where the community was invited to bring their children in to participate in hands-on activities, including holding insects.
In addition, I often organized a thematic workshop for the Annual Girls Math and Science Day for Middle Schoolers. Two themes which I developed were, “Hide-and-Go-Seek: How Insects Escape their Enemies,” and “Sharing is Caring: How Social Insects Rule the World.” These consisted of 15-min presentations, coupled with an interactive part where students held live specimens. It is vital to increase the interest among women in science and to recruit more women into science.
For the past several years, I have either co-organized or solely organized a workshop for 4H groups in Kentucky, either as an independent event or as part of an environmental camp between two 4H counties. In 2013, this involved talking about the services that insects provide for humans, and how insects are so ubiquitous that it is hard to avoid them. 4Hers were able to hold live insects, eat insects in various forms, and learn how to sweep net for insects outside. In previous years, it has also involved teaching students how to pin specimens that were collected and how to identify different groups.