- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Smith, who curates the 400,000 butterfly and moth collection at the Bohart Museum, will be honored Friday, Oct. 2 at the college's Award of Distinction ceremony in the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) Pavilion.
“Alumni, students, staff and faculty will gather to celebrate the contributions made by our college,” said coordinator Carolyn Cloud. “This year the college will present the Award of Distinction to seven outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to our college's success.”
The other 2015 recipients are Jacqueline Beckley, Chuck Nichols and Tony Smith, alumni awards; Chris van Kessel, faculty; David Ginsburg, staff, and John Meyer, friend. The ceremony begins at 5:30 and will be followed by a reception and farmers' market from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. See http://collegecelebration.ucdavis.edu.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and UC Davis professor of entomology, nominated Smith for the award. “You could not ask for a better friend than Jeff Smith,” she said, noting that he has “brought us international acclaim and saved us $160,000 through donations of specimens and materials, identification skills and his professional woodworking skills. This does not include the thousands of hours he has donated in outreach programs that draw attention to the museum, the college and the university.”
Kimsey, who has directed the museum since 1989, remembers when Smith joined the museum. “When Jeff was working for Univar Environmental Services, a 35-year career until his retirement in 2013, he would spend some of his vacation days at the museum. Over the years Jeff took over more and more of the curation of the butterfly and moth collection. He took home literally thousands of field pinned specimens and spread their wings at home, bringing them back to the museum perfectly mounted. To date he has spread the wings on more than 200,000 butterflies and moths. This translates into something like 33,000 hours of work!”
Kimsey praised Smith for completely reorganizing the butterfly and moth collection. “It's no small feat to rearrange this many specimens, housed in roughly one thousand drawers,” she said. “Many thousands of the specimens needed to be identified, and the taxonomy required extensive updating and reorganization.”
“As if this weren't enough, Jeff has made many other contributions to the museum. He donated his brother's collection and library when his brother died unexpectedly. He and his wife have made financial contributions towards the museum's endowment, and he donates other materials and specimens he collects on various collecting trips in the U.S. and overseas.”
Lauding Smith's “phenomenal knowledge of urban insect and spiders,” Kimsey said: “We often go to him with questions we get from the public and from colleagues. He volunteers for our weekend open houses as often as he can, as well as the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day in February and UC Davis Picnic Day in April. Few volunteers, faculty, students or staff work as well with the public as Jeff does. He has a wonderfully engaging way of talking to children and adults, and he knows just how to inspire and educate every age group. It's awesome to watch.”
“Overall, Jeff has made major contributions to the Bohart Museum of Entomology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and UC Davis in his work with the museum collections and his tremendous public outreach and education efforts,” Kimsey concluded. “For him it's a labor of love, for us he's the best thing that ever happened.”
Smith, a resident of Rocklin, is not only a Bohart associate but a member of the Bohart Museum Society and the Lepidopterists' Society. Of his work, he puts it this way: “Entomology is my passion and the Bohart Museum is my cause.”
The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them. The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. Open houses, focusing on specific themes, are held on weekends throughout the academic year.
More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or Tabatha Yang, education and public outreach coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org