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Engaged Entomology

A passion for sharing our interest and knowledge about charismatic microfauna!

Entomology's science outreach and engaged learning play important roles in many programs.  Entomology supports two programs designed to engage Cornell undergraduate and graduate students in giving back to our communities through science outreach: Extension and Outreach Graduate Assistant Program (EOA), and the Naturalist Outreach Program.  We also have a citizen-science program (Lost Lady Bugs), and hosts an exceptional community outreach event ‘Insectapalooza’ annually.  Additionally, members of the Department contribute by hosting interactive displays at Empire Farm Days, the New York State Fair, Fun Day on the Farm, New York State 4-H and many other programs throughout NY State.  

Each of these outreach programs help engage children in science, and contribute to the public’s appreciation of the importance of entomology and science to our civil society.  Moreover, these engaged programs provide opportunities to train undergraduates and graduate students in the skills needed to communicate the value of science to the public.  As a result, many entomology students actively seek out more opportunities to provide outreach beyond these formal events, and continue to do science outreach after graduating from Cornell University. 

Explore Engaged Entomology Programs!

Two children at InsectapaloozaInsectapalooza is a 1-day insect Fair hosted by members of the Department of Entomology.  This large, successful community outreach event attracts thousands of visitors who get an enjoyable hands-on educational experience learning about the biodiversity of different arthropods, as well as the importance, costs, and benefits of insects.   Previous Insectapaloozas have emphasized the ‘Good, bad, and bugly’ of arthropods or the ‘150 most important insects’.

A graduate student pointing to a specimen on a sheetExtension and Outreach Assistants (EOA)  “Insects and the Community” Each year, the Department of Entomology supports three graduate students goals are to improve engaged learning through various projects.  Through their engaged experiential learning activities, our graduate students hone their presentation skills and connect with real world issues and concerns from the public.  For example, in 2014, EOA students taught the public about insects in elementary schools, and events such as 4-H Family Night, Empire Farm Days, Summer Science Camp, Sciencenter, and at the New York State Fair.  Other projects involved teaching extension training workshops about invasive insects threatening New York State, and responding to queries from the public and journalists about insect pests.

The Naturalist Outreach includes an innovative, An exhibit on the Naturalist Outreach programexperiential community engaged service-learning course on how to do effective scientific outreach in environmental biology [Naturalist Outreach Practicum, Entom 3350, 4 credits, Fall semester].  As a major portion of their training, Cornell’s Naturalist Outreach students participate in what is effectively a STEM speaker’s bureau where teachers request hands-on science presentations for their classes or community events.  The outreach is designed to help children – and adults – connect with nature through better understanding of ecology, biodiversity, and behavior.  To reach a broader audience, Naturalist Outreach students have written and starred in 24+ appealing science content videos and developed extensive educational resources for children and their teachers to supplement their presentations. Since 1998, Dr. Rayor and her 326 students have spoken to over 2400 groups and reached ~98,800 people (classroom presentations= 56,300 people; large outreach events= 42,500 people).

Students at the Lost Ladybug Project eventThe Lost Ladybug Project is a citizen science program to engage the public in tracking native and invasive ladybug species through an interactive website where participants can upload photos and help identify rare ladybugs across the United States.  Adults and children are asked to participate and are given numerous learning tools to help them in their search.  Over the past twenty years native ladybugs that were once very common have become extremely rare.  During this same time ladybugs from other parts of the world have greatly increased both their numbers and range. This is happening very quickly and we don’t know how, or why, or what impact it will have on ladybug diversity or the role that ladybugs play in keeping plant-feeding insect populations low.  We're asking you to join us in finding out where all the ladybugs have gone so we can try to prevent more native species from becoming so rare.  

Empire Farm Days and the New York State Fair are two other annual events, well represented by the Department of Entomology, where large groups of people are educated on the different insects they come into contact with every day.  Both events continue to have a steady stream of visitors asking questions about the insect displays, live animals, or even bringing photos for identification.  Cornell entomologists are also active contributors to the 4-H Youth Bureau, NYS 4-H Career Explorations and STARR programs.

Exhibiting at Empire Farm DaysShowing children an insect at Empire Farm Days

Entomology table at Empire Farm DaysThe Entomology Department at Empire Farm Days