The Emlen Lab is committed to educating children and the community about the importance of insects in our lives and the mysteries surrounding them. Our lab is proud to be an annual part of events such as MOLLI, First Night Missoula, Bug Days, Spectrum Summer Camps, the Gifted Education Conference, the Montana Natural History Center and local school presentations. We are also strong supporters of the forthcoming Missoula Butterfly House. Over the last four years we have participated in more than thirty outreach opportunities.
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is an extended education program for adults over 50. Funded by the Bernard Osher Foundation it is MOLLI’s goal to promote continued learning and personal growth in adults. Every summer MOLLI hosts a summer camp for grandparents and their grandchildren. This is a great opportunity for grandparents and grandchildren to connect and learn new things through scientific exploration. We offer a MOLLI course every summer on insects. Our class includes lectures on beetles, how insects defend themselves from predators, and what insects are edible and why people eat them. We also offer many hands-on projects for class participants including: making insect sculptures from natural materials, holding live rhinoceros beetles, tasting freshly-baked insect cuisines, and going on field trips to collect insects and make insect collections.
First Night Missoula is put on by the Missoula Cultural Council on New Years Eve every year. It is an alcohol-free opportunity for the community to gather and celebrate the New Year with performances, shows, talks, and activities from local talent. Through the cooperation of MOLLI and First Night Missoula we are able to offer an “Edible Insect” show as part of the New Years Eve celebration. Last year we had over 200 participants who gathered to enjoy an interactive lecture and try insect cuisine from around the world.
SpectrUM is an interactive science center located on the University of Montana campus. The center contains exhibits and demonstrations for the public as well as outreach programs and summer camps. Every year our live rhinoceros beetles make an appearance at the youth science camp. It’s a great opportunity to answer questions about insects and teach young scientists about an exotic and remarkable beetle.
Missoula county public schools partner with the University of Montana and SpectrUM to provide gifted and talented students from the elementary and middle schools an opportunity to interact with UofM professors and colleagues and learn about current research in the sciences. For the past three years we have provided workshops for students to gain hands-on experience with our colonies of rhinoceros beetles. In the past we have provided insights into our current research, the fascinating world of beetles, how to extract DNA at home, and the world of edible bugs.
The Natural History Center is a non-profit organization that promotes the appreciation of nature through education. Through the Montana Natural History Center the Emlen lab has participated in Evening lectures, Saturday kids activities, a Lecture event to the Explorers Club and insect identification classes to students obtaining a Master Naturalist license.
Our lab actively supports the development of the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium, a facility that will be dedicated to promoting an appreciation and understanding of insects and their relatives through education and the development of an invertebrate education facility. This project is founded and run by Jennifer Marangelo, a former member of our lab.