What I’ve Learned

Hello again! Jemma here. Looking back I have done more than I could ever imagine I would do this summer. I transcribed interviews, reared weevils, sweep sampled IMG_1084many fields, entered/checked data, sat in on farmer interviews, drove to Lingle and Powell, sorted insects, counted thousands upon thousands of insects, planted/transplanted and watered flowers, weeded the flowers, counted blooms and I even used Instagram. Now it may be that strolling through alfalfa fields, picking through frozen insects and alfalfa and attempting to capture live weevil larvae and lygus nymphs with out losing your cool isn’t ones idea of how they would want to spend the summer- but I’m so glad that this is how I got to spend mine.This summer taught me a lot but here are the top 8 things I learned:

  1. How to use a microscope.
  • I never realized how complicated it was to first, adjust the microscope so that you can sit comfortably and see what you need to look at clearly, and then you have to use tools to sort items while you are looking through the microscope. Now, I think of myself as a fairly coordinated person, but it took me about a week to efficiently use the microscope to sort through samples of insects.
  1. Science and research is a waiting game.
  • Waiting to hear back from farmers and colleagues, waiting for flowers to grow, waiting for programs to calculate/process results, waiting for better tools to arrive, waiting for hotels to send you a receipt. Based on these observations I have come to the conclusion that: Science=Patience- and a lot of it!
  1. We are not alone on this Earth.
  • I was blown away by the shear amount of insects that we collected in a 50-sweep sample. It blew my mind that there are millions of insects and other living things that were living their lives right underneath my feet and I would have never have known that they were there! On the surface the alfalfa fields we sampled just appeared to be a vision of a healthy crop, but underneath was a whole other world that moved at it’s own pace. A whole world that I knew was there, but I had never experienced how vast and abundant it was.
  1. It’s the people around you that make it all worthwhile.
  • Our crew this summer was absolutely amazing! I am so glad that I got to know and work with Randa, Makenzie, Zoe, Allison, Alanna and Preston. I learned so much from each of you that it has made me realize that I am exactly where I need to be at this point in my life. Thanks for helping make this summer a great one.
  1. Sunscreen and bug spray are necessities!
  • I think this point is self-explanatory.
  1. Stretch and stand.
  • When you spend some days sitting and staring at a tray of insects and frozen alfalfa for eight hours, it is very good practice to take a break to stretch and stand. Not only is it good for you, but it also helps you re-motivate and refocus.
  1. ALWAYS have good music and/or books on hand.
  • Listening to some classic jams or to a good book on tape while you are working helps pass the time on those long days in the lab or on the drive back from field work. I recommend some Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, The Steve Miller Band, Aretha Franklin and Chicago; these should give you a good base to build upon. It’s also a good idea to have the Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack on hand as well. For books, I would recommend the Divergent Series.
  1. Sometimes, at the end of the day, you just need some A&W.
  • For those days when nothing seems to go right, I found that a pit stop at A&W can really turn your day around!

My summer experience was quite the adventure. It was filled with dreams of weevils, sorting through thousands and thousands of insects, road trips to Powell and Lingle, planting flowers, sweeping alfalfa fields, working with some cool people and so much more. This adventure taught me many things and gave me a good view of what doing research involves and I have a greater appreciation for all of those who do it! I am now better prepared to continue in my education and maybe one day do some research of my own. Thanks again to the Weevil Warriors, it’s been fun!

UPDATE:

Zoe here. The weevil warriors would like to announce our winner for the Summer 2015 Weevil Larvae Count-off! Long days were spent in the lab sorting through bags of sweep photo (4)samples, counting several insects. The most common insect we found was weevil larvae, and therefore found it appropriate to set up some friendly competition to see who counted the most! And our winner is….. JEMMA! Everyone put in hours of time and dedication, and we thank you Jemma for your valued efforts!

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