By all accounts, this year’s Master Volunteer Entomology Specialist (MVES) training was a “bug success”. The 2017 class was held Sep 18-21 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Center at Dallas, and represented the 12th time we’ve offered the course since 2003. I hosted this year’s class with lots of help from colleagues.
Every year’s MVES class agenda is unique. In addition to core sessions (general entomology, insect orders, integrated pest management, and insects of trees and landscapes), we heard talks on insects that eat other insects, beekeeping, native pollinators, butterfly gardening, and environmental education. Our two field trips visited the Heard Nature Museum in McKinney and the Plano Environmental Education Center and Community Gardens. All students receive a bug collecting kit, high quality magnifier and field guide. After field trips to collect insects, our instructors helped everyone start their own insect box.
The talk on native pollinators by our entomology museum curator Karen Wright was especially interesing. Karen is an expert on native bees, and provided a unique perspective on the importance of this often overlooked group. Karen also wowed the class with her 20-year-old Subaru, tricked out with roof-hugging bee sculpture and a variety of insect artwork.
Erin Hoffer, Environmental Educator with the City of Plano, provided a change of pace by demonstrating interactive games, craft projects and songs. She showed how insects can be used to engage children (and adults) in learning about the natural world.
A honey tasting session with bee educator Janet Rowe, stimulated everyone’s taste receptors and provided a better appreciation for the subtle differences in bee honey.
We offer the MVES class every year to active Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists. If you complete the class, and volunteer 20 hours on entomology-related activities, you receive a pin identifying yourself as an Entomology Specialist.
Perhaps the best testimony about a class comes from the participants themselves. Here are a few comments we received about this year’s training:
- Thank you for a very enjoyable class. I was feeling stagnant as a master gardener and it rejuvenated me and piqued my interest again.
- I cannot begin to thank you enough for hosting and leading this year’s training. I am completely self-taught [in spiders] and it was so amazing to actually learn from experts in the field. The biggest thing I learned is: I might have missed my calling.
- I thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on, engaged and educational training I attended this week. and know more about insects now than I ever did! The presenters and presentations were exceptional and valuable. I look forward to apply what I have learned.
- The class, the speakers, tour guides, and fellow students were all great! I have participated in quite a few very good specialty training classes, but this was the best ever! Thank you!
- I had initially been hesitant about the class after an experience with another poorly-organized specialty class, but Entomology Excels! Thanks so much.
- I have attended many certification courses over the years for both professional and personal projects. This course was the smoothest ever and all of the professionals involved and the auditor volunteers were amazing. Truly an exceptional experience and this is coming from one with the most discerning taste and high expectations.
For any Texas Master Naturalist or Master Gardener interested in being a specialist for your county or chapter, the class will be offered again next year in College Station. For more information, visit our MVES website at https://agrilife.org/insectspecialist/ Information about how to register for the upcoming class is usually posted each June.