That these students were, even after a four-hour, 226-mile bus trip from Tulare County to Yolo County.
Destination: the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, campus.
The 11 students, all children of California migrant workers, filed into the Bohart Museum to learn about the diversity of insects, and polish their journalism skills by participating in a press conference.
And then something unexpected happened.
It occurred after they learned about the museum's global collection of nearly 8 million specimens--from pollinators to pests to parasites. It occurred after they went eye-to-eye with the critters in the live petting zoo, holding walking sticks and touching a tarantula named Coco McFluffin. It occurred after they quizzed Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology, at their press conference.
The unexpected: On the way home, most said they wanted to become entomologists.
And most said they wanted to study at UC Davis.
At the Bohart Museum, Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, opened drawer-after-drawer of specimens, introducing them to the beauty of the butterflies, from the large blue Morpho to the iconic monarch. The students marveled at the diversity of insects, from orchid bees to rhinoceros beetles. "You can become an entomologist," Yang told them, "and collect insects and find new species."
Then, the visitors switched from budding entomologists to budding journalists. Wearing press badges and carrying yellow notepads (jotted with "who, what, when, where"), they quizzed Kimsey on her occupation, the Bohart Museum collections, and her childhood.
They sat on the floor, circling her, and politely raised their hands to ask questions.
“Yes?” she said. “Go ahead.”
.”How long have you here at UC Davis?
“I've been on the faculty for 28 years,” Kimsey told them. “I got my bachelor's degree here in 1976 and then went on to get my doctorate in 1979. That was a long time ago. It makes me feel old.”
What do you like best about your job?
“I like insects and I like being with people.”
What do you study?
How many specimens are there at the Bohart Museum?
“We have nearly eight million specimens and they're from all over the world. Scientists come here to study them. We also have open houses during the academic year and the museum is open Monday through Thursday for visitors.”
How many live insects do you have at the Bohart?
“We have 200 to 300 in our petting zoo. We have Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Some of the tarantulas get grumpy like people do. And when you see them, there are three illegal words you're not allowed to say here at the Bohart Museum: yuck, eww and gross.
Have you ever been stung by a bee?
“Yes, but it just hurts for a little while, but some people are allergic to them and get very sick. Honey bees sting when they're guarding their hive, their home. It's a defensive measure.”
“When I was five, my parents gave me an insect net.”
Do you have a sister and does she like bugs?
“Yes, I have a sister but she's never liked bugs. She likes horses and now raises horses.”
Have you ever eaten a bug?
“When I was little I used to eat bugs and my sister ate an earthworm or maybe it was the other way around. I was two years old and have no memory of that.”
What do you think is the most beautiful insect?
“The Western yellow tiger swallowtail is big, yellow and pretty.”
Kimsey said her major professor, Richard M Bohart, for whom the museum is named, influenced her to study bees and wasps. She said she enjoys collecting insects throughout the world.
As she spoke, the students--all staffers for the Migrant Voice newspaper--jotted down her comments.
Preparation played a key role in their visit to the Bohart Museum. Before embarking on their trip, the youths studied insects as well as journalism techniques, said Gloria Davalos, area administrator of the Migrant Education Program, Tulare County Office of Education. “I have four school districts in Tulare County that participate in journalism: Tulare City, Tipton, Pixley and Earlimart. “Of these schools Tulare City attended the study trip to UC Davis. In Tulare City we have Roosevelt School, Pleasant School, Heritage School, and Maple School.”
How did they prepare for the press conference? “The students participated in an extended day journalism curriculum that taught them what a newspaper entailed, the different parts of a newspaper parts of an article--hook, lead sentence, details, and conclusion--how to conduct an interview, how to create meaningful questions for an interview utilizing the five W's--who, what, when, where, and why.”
“We loved our Bohart Museum experience,” Davalos said. “It was fascinating to think of insects in a different light and to expose our migrant students to a realistic career in something that is common in all parts of the world."
Kimsey smiled when she told the 11 students the "one" visitor rule: No saying "yecch" or "ick" or "gross" when you meet the petting zoo residents, including the Madagascar hissing cockroaches, tarantulas, and walking sticks. They quickly obliged, apprehensive looks quickly flashing into approving smiles. "Cool!" "Neat!" "Can I hold it?"
"The bugs weren't as scary as they looked,” Davalos said.
The mission of the Migrant Education Program, she said, is “to create a college-going culture empowering the child and family, through advocacy, education, and collaboration of resources, to reach their highest potential."
When the students departed the Bohart Museum, they thanked the scientists, who encouraged them to return and "not be strangers." The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is open to the public Monday through Thursday.
“We appreciate the time and opportunity spent with our migrant students and the wealth of knowledge they brought back,” Davalos said.
The students published their stories in "The Migrant Voice," part of the Tulare County Office of Education:
Some of the excerpts:
- "While at UC Davis, I asked Professor Lynn Kimsey who influenced her to get the job as an entomologist. She said 'Richard M. Bohart'; he was her teacher at UC Davis when she was then a student. She likes it that she gets to learn new things and travels a lot. Professor Kimsey has discovered new bugs."
- "The entomology museum is a great place to see new species of bugs....a professor showed us a container of unknown bugs from all over the world. Next, we opened a storage room that was organized like a library and we saw walls filled close to the ceiling with cases of beautiful and exotic dead butterflies...our journalism team learned that the entomologists not only get to find new species of bugs, but have the remarkable job of naming them. Before our journalism team went on our trip to UC Davis, I was grossed out and anxious about seeing and touching bugs. However, after visiting Davis' awesome entomology museum, I was thrilled that we had the opportunity to see and learn about exotic new species of bugs."
- "We went to college and learned about crazy bugs...We interviewed Professor Kimsey; she is an entomologist. An entomologist studies bugs. She told us her parents gave her a bug net when she was young. Professor Kimsey and her sister even ate a bug. One of her favorite bugs is the wasp. She has traveled to other countries and likes to learn new things. There are a lot of butterflies around the world. Some of the butterflies looked like they had eyes on them."
- "Professor Kimsey takes care of the bugs; she is also a teacher there. We interviewed her and she said that she has loved insects since she was five years old! She enjoys catching them and has been doing that since her parents gave her a bug net when she was little."
- "Do you know what a walking stick is? We do! A walking stick is an insect. It looks like a real stick. This is so other animals can't see it....we were even allowed to touch the walking stick. Their feet felt sticky...Bugs are fun to learn about and some can be helpful to people."
The students headlined their stories: "Beautiful UC Davis," "One Amazing Study Trip," "The Day We Went to UC Davis, "My Dreams, UC Davis!" and "Butterflies Everywhere!"
One wrote: "Now you know what college I went to visit. You should consider going there, too! I hope I go to UC Davis when I go to college. That is my dream."
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology will be participating Thursday, April 27 in the annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work” (TODS) Day.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane will participate from 1 to 5 p.m., while the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road will cater to the visitors from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Youths touring the Bohart Museum will see insect specimens and the live “petting zoo” of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. The craft activity will be making buttons, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. The museum director is Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology.
At the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre pollinator and demonstration garden, visitors can view the some 200 plant species; check out the bee observation hive from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility; and participate in "catch and release" bee observation. “We also have microscopes for close-up bee viewing,” said manager Christine Casey. Faculty director of the garden is Elina Niño.
TODS is billed as “an annual national celebration of employers hosting children at their workplace.” Designed to be more than a career day, TODS not only exposes youths to what their parents do at work, but may provide an incentive to attend college and envision their future.
Per the rules, all attendees must register on the TODS page by April 26. Some activities require specific enrollment due to an enrollment cap. Within this page you can also register for those specific activities requiring specific event enrollment due to an enrollment cap. Check out some of the videos from the 2016 TODS:/span>
Two of the department's exhibits are in the running for special awards at the 103rd annual UC Davis Picnic Day, set Saturday, April 22. One is “Honey Tasting” at Briggs Hall, and the other is “Bigger, Better, Buglier: Impressive Science” at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
“Honey Tasting" will feature a selection of varietal honeys in a display that's the work of Extension apiculturist Elina Niño and colleagues at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility.
"We will have the crowd favorites: coffee blossom, sweet meadowfoam, as well as some classics such as orange blossom and blackberry blossom and the 'love-it-or-hate-it' buckwheat honey," Niño said. "This year we will also be featuring our own 2016 crop of UC Davis honey from the apiculture program." The exhibit is one of six competing for awards in the category, "Hunger Fix.”
“Bigger, Better, Buglier: Impressive Science” from the Bohart Museum is one of six entered in "Secrets of Nature." The insect museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. It is the home of nearly 8 million insect specimens, plus a live petting zoo (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and taranatulas) and a year-around gift shop that includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The department's two exhibits are among 30 special exhibits competing in five categories: Best in Show, Fun with Crafts, Arts and Humanities, Hunger Fix and Secrets of Nature, said UC Davis Picnic Day exhibits director Helen Xie.
The way it works: Picnic Day attendees vote for their favorite exhibits. Winning exhibits will be featured on social media pages such as Picnic Day website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts after Picnic Day. They will also be featured next year, in preparation for Picnic Day 2018.
The poll will open at 8 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. the same day. All are welcome to vote at: https://orgsync.com/51524/forms/258052.
Last year the department won two special awards. By popular vote, "Little Swimmers and Fly Tyers (Briggs Hall)," won the category, Hidden Treasures; and "Real Insects and Mimics" (Bohart Museum of Entomology) won the category "Family Friendly."
This year's Briggs Hall activities will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Bohart Museum of Entomology will swing open its doors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Graduate student Brendon Boudinot, who is chairing the department's Picnic Day Committee, announced these activities at Briggs:
- Honey Tasting (You can sample varietals of honey)
- Bug Doctor (The doctor is in!)
- Cockroach Races (Pick a winner: this event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
- Scavenger Hunt (Do you know your insects?)
- Dr. Death (Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey will answer your questions)
- Insect Face Painting (Get a bee, lady beetle or another insect painted on your face)
- Little Swimmers and Fly Tying (Watch and identify aquatic insects, a project from the Sharon Lawler lab, and learn "how to tie a fly" from the Fly Fishers of Davis
- Maggot Art (Dip a maggot into a water-based, non-toxic paint and create a painting suitable for framing)
- UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) (See their many publications and ask questions; youngsters can receive a vial of free lady beetles, aka ladybugs)
- T-shirt sales by the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Students' Association (popular t-shirts include beetles and honey bees)
- Social insects, insect forestry, medical entomology, and more (See a honey bee observation hive from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and ants from the Phil Ward lab; and also learn about forest insects and mosquitoes. The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District will staff a booth)
The nematology collection will be on display in the Sciences Laboratory Building, across from Briggs.
Theme of this year's campuswide Picnic Day is "Growing Together." The event gets underway at 9:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony by the grandstands on North Quad Ave., across from Wickson Hall. The parade starts at 10 a.m. from the same site. Announcement locations are at 2nd and D streets in downtown Davis; F Street in front of PDQ Fingerprinting, and 3rd and C streets in downtown Davis. The UC Davis Entomology Club, advised by forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey, will enter its popular black widow float.
The event, open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will "showcase natural history, biodiversity and the cultural-ecological interface," said coordinator Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
The open house is free and open to all; parking is also free. All collections are within walking distance on campus except for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road for the Raptor Center on Old Davis Road.
The Bohart Museum is directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology. Faculty director of the bee haven is Elina Lastro Niño, while Chris Casey serves as the staff manager. Staffing the nematode collection display (Sciences Lab Building) on Feb. 18 will be graduate students Corwin Parker and Chris Pagan.
The following will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
- Arboretum and Public Garden, headquartered on LaRue Road
- Bohart Museum of Entomology, Academic Surge Building
- California Raptor Center, Old Davis Road
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Academic Surge Building
- Paleontology Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
- Viticulture and Enology Culture Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
The following will be open from noon to 4 p.m.:
- Anthropology Museum Young Hall
- Botanical Conservatory, greenhouses along Kleiber Hall Drive
- Center for Plant Diversity, Sciences Lab Building
- Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Bee Biology Road
- Nematode Collection, Sciences Lab Building
All participating museums and collections have active education and outreach programs, Yang said, but the collections are not always accessible to the public. In the event of rain, alternative locations are planned for the outdoor sites. Maps, signs and guides will be available at all the collections, online, and on social media, including Facebook and Twitter, @BioDivDay.
For further information about the event, access the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day website.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology of UC Davis is hosting an open house on “Parasite Palooza: Botflies, Fleas and Mites, Oh, My” from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 22 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane.
Senior public health biologist Mike Niemala of the California Department of Public Health, who received his master of science degree from UC Davis, will participate in the three-hour open house, discussing ticks and other health issues, and handing out fliers and brochures.
Nematologist Lauren Camp, who received her doctorate in December, will head the program on nematodes. She studied with major professor Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"Nematodes are a large group (phylum) of roundworms," she said. "Most nematodes are not parasites, but people may be familiar with some of the parasitic species. Some well-known nematode parasites of humans are pinworm, Ascaris, hookworm, and guinea worm. Dogs and cats can also become infected with nematodes including heartworm, hookworm, or Toxocara."
"I first became interested in parasites during my undergrad degree at the University of Chicago," she said. "My specific interest in nematode parasites developed when I read some of Dr. Nadler's work on the evolutionary relationships of nematodes for an invertebrate biology class. Nematodes are an amazing phylum of organisms- they exist in almost every known environment on the planet, and different species eat everything from bacteria and fungi to plant and animal tissue. I find parasites particularly fascinating, because they are dependent on another organism (or organisms) for part or all of their life cycle."
Also scheduled to participate: Adrienne Mora, a National Science Foundation postodoctoral research fellow in the UC Davis lab of Andy Sih, Department of Environmental Science and Policy. Mora studies trematode parasites, that she says, "behaviorally manipulate their fish hosts to perform strange behaviors that make them more likely to be eaten by final host bird predators."
Free and Open to the Public
The Bohart event, free and open to the public, will also spotlight such arthropod parasites as lice, mites, and bed bugs. The family craft activity will focus on origami paper hats; attendees can make and can attach stickers of parasites.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, is a world-renowned insect museum that houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and tarantulas. A 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, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.