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Interning with The Butterfly House

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Posted on October 22, 2014 by Courtney Scott '15, conservation and wildlife management.

Courtesy: Courtney Scott '15 Courtney Scott '15, at her internship.

I had never even considered a career in entomology. In fact, I was accepted to Delaware Valley College as biology major. After switching my major to conservation and wildlife management my career plans began to change. By the end of my sophomore year, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do after graduation. Since I was very active in DelVal’s Apiary Society since freshman year and had developed a love for bees, I thought about pursuing entomology. Dr. Chris Tipping’s entomology class soon became one of my favorites, and it only got better when one day one of my classmates brought in a small container with a monarch butterfly in it. 

Her name was Stommy Blauth and she was auditing the class to learn more about butterflies and other insects. We became good friends, and she even brought in a monarch butterfly for my collection. She told me she was the director of the butterfly house at Churchville Nature Center, and she was always looking for volunteers to work there during the summer. May 2014 rolled around and I was officially in training to becoming a butterfly docent and caterpillar rearer.  Because of my classes at DelVal, I started out with a solid foundation in public speaking and knowledge in plants, conservation and most of the insects found inside the butterfly house. All of this gave me a head start over other first-time volunteers and a boost of self-confidence, because I knew exactly what I was talking about.

I spent my summer weekends working at the butterfly house--gardening, giving tours, learning the names of butterflies and moths, and learning to identify their host plants. I participated in citizen science programs--testing monarchs for OE, a serious parasite affecting monarch butterflies, and the tag and release of all of the monarch butterflies in our house. I also had the wonderful opportunity of teaching children and adults of all ages about all the stages of life a caterpillar goes through in order to become a butterfly or moth and I was even put in charge of creating a blog for the butterfly house in order to show off everyone’s pictures, including my own.

I have never loved a job more than this one. Even though the butterfly house is closed for the season, my work still isn’t done. I’m working on the blog, and I stop by to feed any of the caterpillars that haven’t formed their chrysalides or cocoons. I have also become a visitor’s aide for the Nature Center. I still keep in contact with the other volunteers and docents from DelVal and other institutions all over Bucks County; who I hope are friends for life. I see Stommy, the woman who started it all and who became my second mom, as she continues to increase her knowledge through DelVal. 

I have to thank DelVal for this amazing experience. Without all of my professors and classes preparing me, I would never have decided to pursue graduate school in order to study pollinators. Now that I am in my senior year about to graduate, I’m not worried about my future. I know that DelVal will open doors for me just as it has in the past.

Courtesy: Courtney Scott '15 One of Courtney's photos for the butterfly house blog.