Back in the saddle

Woof.  I’ve been absentee for quite some time now, but rest assured I’m still here!  I was away for the past month teaching young children about entomology in the Sierras.  The weather was beautiful, the children were eager to learn, and I had an absolutely wonderful time.  I love teaching and definitely want to make pedagogy a priority in my future.

One drawback this year was a precedence of yellowjackets or, as they’re more commonly known, “meat bees”.  On the first day of teaching some of the students trampled a nest and aggravated all the yellowjackets in the area.  Since this was an outdoor education program, all my lessons occurred in the field.  The first day every five minutes a new student was stung – in what appeared to be unprovoked attacks.  The wasps calmed down after that first day and I managed to somehow get through it unscathed.  We moved to a new field location the second day and that also seemed to ease the situation.   The whole month went by with fewer and fewer wasp stings and bites.  Then the last day approached.  My last group of students for the month (I had already experienced over 300 previous students).  They were incredibly enthusiastic – catching grasshoppers in the meadow and identifying them to species in the field.  Perhaps they were a bit too enthusiastic….they headed out into the taller grass where I hadn’t scanned for wasp nests.  Sure enough, someone was stung.  Then another student. Then another.  Then, of course, me…three times.  Ugggggggh.  I was upset.  Not because the wasp stings were painful (though they are not pleasant by any means), but because I had almost made it through the whole month and it was so typical to have that happen on the last day.  I suppose it did create some camaraderie between myself and those students who had also been stung.  It also helped teach me to stay calm and control a group of young children who are freaking out because they are being attacked by wasps while you yourself are distressing inside your own head.  It’s true what they say, just keep calm and carry on.

It was somewhat nice taking a break from research for a month’s time.  But towards the final week of teaching I started to itch…and not because of the wasp stings.  That little research bug started to crawl under my skin and I couldn’t wait to look at beetles under a microscope or hold a pipettor in my hand.

So now I’m back and working on research full time.  On the imminent horizon are numerous large grant proposals that I need to write up and submit as well as preparing a student oral presentation for the national entomology meeting coming up in a few weeks.  I have my work cut out for me, but it’s one of those moments in grad school of (hopefully) extreme productivity.

Check back soon as I plan to return to my fairly regular blogging schedule!

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