Students Earn College Credit If Their Insects Enjoy Afterlife

Linda Hooper-Bui, Jan, Shoemaker, Claesgens, Mark A.  |  11/18/2006 1:59:55 AM

Noel Harwell, left, a kindergarten teacher at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic School in Arabi, gladly accepts two display boxes of insect collections made by Heather DiMaggio of New Orleans. DiMaggio is an LSU senior majoring in animal science and technology, and the donation came about through the LSU service-learning program.

News Release Distributed 12/11/2003

After a semester of painstaking effort to prepare museum-quality displays of Louisiana insects, LSU entomology students generally have faced a disheartening finale – when their collections end up in the trash bin.

"Of course, students work to learn and to earn grades, but still, they thought their handiwork deserved a better end," says LSU AgCenter entomologist Dr. Linda Hooper-Bùi.

The major objective of the course Entomology 2001 "Insects in the Environment" is for students to learn the names of the groups of insects and to collect, organize and scientifically name a diverse group of insects from Louisiana, according to Hooper-Bùi.

The entomologist adds, however, "Historically, the collections for this class were thrown away at the end of the semester."

Hooper-Bùi agreed the collections deserved a grander destiny, so she looked into the matter and eventually connected with Jan Shoemaker, director of the LSU Service-Learning Program.

"Service learning is a credit-bearing experience where the students identify a community need and, through application of their course objectives, satisfy that need," Shoemaker told Hooper-Bùi.

That was two years ago. What happened afterward forever changed the complexion of the entomology course. Students interested in preserving their work now can seek community partners with legitimate needs for the insect collections.

The task of finding community "partners" goes beyond making cold calls to obvious contacts like schools or museums, however, as far as the students are concerned.

"The students were more creative than I imagined," Hooper-Bùi says, noting that novel insect collection repositories include the golf courses at LSU and the Country Club of Louisiana.

"These collections will be housed in the clubhouses and viewed by the grounds-keepers and by golfers," the entomologist says, explaining, "They will help serve to make everyone aware of insects, and the grounds-keepers will use the collection as a resource to make pest management decisions."

Other deceased bugs are enjoying an afterlife at the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, the LSU Hilltop Arboretum, the Alexander State Forest Outdoor Education Center, the Girl Scouts of America Audubon Council in St. Francisville, the Calcasieu School Board, the CNI Wholesale Nursery in Baton Rouge, the LSU AgCenter Extension office in St. Mary Parish and the LSU Department of Horticulture. Elementary and high schools round out the list.

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Contacts:
Linda Hooper-Bùi (225) 578-1832 or lhooper@agcenter.lsu.edu
Jan Shoemaker (225) 578-9264 or jshoema@lsu.edu
Writer:
Mark Claesgens (225) 578-2939 or mclaesgens@agcenter.lsu.edu

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