Insect Judging Clinic Helps Increase Youths’ Interest in Insects

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Dr. Pete Teel speaking to leaders during a concurrent session for leaders only. Photo by Rob Williams

COLLEGE STATION, Texas –A total of 98 high school and junior high students learned the basics of entomology and insect identification during the Department of Entomology’s annual Insect Judging Clinic on March 28.

This is the fifth year that the Department has hosted the event that helps students to work on refining their insect identification skills and learn about science and about Texas A&M University.

Volunteers graded practice exams for the "Ultimate Challenge." Photo by Rob Williams

Volunteers graded practice exams for the “Ultimate Challenge.” Photo by Rob Williams

The half-day-long clinic featured various demonstrations on topics such as the basics of identifying and collecting insects and recognizing features of problem insect orders that could appear in the upcoming 4-H and FFA contests, as well as interactive breakout insect viewing stations where students could ask questions.

Dr. Pete Teel, right, talking to Christian Dieterich, center, and Tina Dieterich about entomology

Dr. Pete Teel, right, talking to Christian Dieterich, center, and Tina Dieterich about entomology. Photo by Rob Williams.

Dr. Pete Teel opened the clinic and introduced himself to students during the welcoming session. He briefed them on the overview of the event’s activities and discussed with them why this clinic is important.

“This clinic is to help you compete better and learn about the insect orders, as well as to help build on your programs back home,” Teel said.

Teel also said that what the students learn from today’s clinic can also be used as a teaching tool for the younger generations that will be in future contests, as well as help them learn in science classes.

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Ordom Huot helping a leader with an insect identification. Photo by Rob Williams.

“The nice thing about this clinic is that you will be able to teach and engage younger members into learning entomology,” he said. “You will then become a legacy in your group.”

Students and leaders were then divided up and sent to three concurrent sessions that included basic insect identification, pinning and collection techniques, and a leaders-only workshop on how to build reliable resources for success as an entomological team.

Students then had the choice of visiting five insect identification sessions where they could view insects in various orders with microscopes or by hand and ask the volunteers questions. The stations included the most common insects in Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, Diptera, and Hemiptera, as well as the most commonly missed insect orders.

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Shelby Kilpatrick, left, and Derek Woller showing participants various insects that can be collected. Photo by Rob Williams

Throughout the day, students could also test their newly-learned skills during the “Ultimate Challenge” quiz and ask questions during the student panel discussion led by both the Department’s undergraduate and graduate students.

Some of the topics that were discussed included careers in entomology, a day in the life of a college student at A&M, and entomology in general.

Ph.D. student Lue Cuttiford worked with several of the students with identifying insects in the order Diptera. She loved the fact that the clinic is a great event for helping them to learn about science and entomology.

“This is great and a great opportunity to reach out to the students,” Cuttiford said.

Denton County 4-H parent Tina Dieterich also said that this was a great learning experience for all the participants, including the adult leaders.

“This is a great activity, especially for those who want to learn more about entomology,” she said. “We learned a great deal on the different ways on how to collect insects and it was a lot of fun.”

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