Annual Insect Identification Clinic Helps Prepare FFA, 4H Members for Contests

Participants got the chance to see insects up close and personal in five rooms during the clinic. Photo by Rob Williams.

Participants got the chance to see insects up close and personal in five rooms during the clinic. Photo by Rob Williams.

Students in the Department of Entomology were on hand to help the youth that are involved in statewide FFA and 4-H clubs to better identify insects and teach entomology during the annual Insect Judging Clinic held in the Heep Center on Saturday, March 30.

The clinic helps to prepare youth participating in the upcoming FFA and 4-H contests. The half-day-long clinic helps them with identifying, collecting, and preparing insects, and learning insect biology and ecology.

After the opening session led by Dr. Pete Teel, participants were directed to four concurrent sessions that included topics such as correctly identifying insects, properly collecting and preserving insects for display, and a workshop for adult leaders and teachers on the different resources available for building successful teams.

Dr. Pete Teel showing participants about navigating the clinic during the introduction. Photo by Rob Williams.

Dr. Pete Teel showing participants about navigating the clinic during the introduction. Photo by Rob Williams.

Participants also had the chance to fine tune their insect identification skills at five different insect identification stations and a room where students received hands-on experience working with pinning and mounting tools.

The stations included the most common insects in Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, Diptera, and Hemiptera, as well as the most commonly missed insect orders.

Several undergraduate and graduate students also served as volunteers to help participants with any questions they had on insects and the contest in general.

Participants could also practice their skills with practice sessions in three rooms set up on the second and fourth floors.

The day ended with an overview of the contest and a panel of students where participants could ask questions about entomology, careers, and what college is about.

Devon Eldridge showing participants how to properly pin and mount insects for collections. Photo by Rob Williams.

Devon Eldridge showing participants how to properly pin and mount insects for collections. Photo by Rob Williams.

This year was senior Entomology major Sherrill Richarz’ first time to volunteer for the clinic and she said she loved working in the Hymenoptera room helping students with questions about the specimens.

“I really enjoyed volunteering and it makes me feel great that I’m helping the kids learn about entomology,” she said. “It’s a great experience.”

Senior Franchesca Rodriguez enjoyed working in the Hymenoptera room and seeing how interested the participants were when they looked at the insects.

“This really is a great seeing the kids and their reactions when they see the specimens,” Rodriguez said.

Grand Saline FFA leader Bryce Nations said the clinic was a great idea and also gives students a glimpse of entomology, as well as a way for them to see what college life is about.

“It’s great for the kids to see the clinic and learn from the people that are doing these contests and I think it’s a great recruiting tool for the university too,” he said.

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