Local youth learn about entomology


Amanda Tafolla-Sutton

Krysti Nienhueser examines the insects Emily Landers caught in her net at Monday's bug camp at Lodgepole Valley Youth Camp, the camp was put on by the 4-H Extension Office.

Mike Ekelson is a Research Technician for the West-Central Extension Center, in town for a two-day bug camp where kids get the opportunity to learn about entomology.

Entomology is a branch of Zoology that is concerned with the study of insects.

"I got my masters in entomology from the University of Kentucky in 2010 and have been in Nebraska since March of 2014," Ekelson said.

In the process of switching majors from sociology to biology his sophomore year of college, a friend suggested he enter into the entomology field.

"My friend said there were jobs working in entomology working for various companies," Ekelson said, "I took his advice and took an entomology course and here I am today, 15 years later."

Ekelson is currently working on his doctorate in entomology. This is the second year he has worked UNL Extension to teach entomology to students.

Volunteer Krysti Nienhueser has helped to teach the students about insects for the past four years. Nienhueser said her family got involved with entomology when "the University of Lincoln sent people out to get kids interested in entomology, and one of them was a doctor who brought his entomology insects. The kids were mesmerized by the Scarabs (Egyptian beetles), so we started entomology."

Working as a teacher for fourteen years the bug camp came naturally to Nienhueser.

"I work in an office, but my calling is to be with kids," Nienhueser said.

Bug Camp started with a introduction to insects.

Being able to identify the differences between spiders and insects and other arthropods, the classification of life, and why insects are important," Ekelson said, adding insects provide a lot of functions.

"One of them is pollination, which is the ability of plants to reproduce, because of pollination services insects provide one third of all the food on your plate either directly or indirectly," Ekelson said.

The students continued the two-day bug camp Tuesday, where they learned how to properly capture and pin the bugs for research, as well as making bee habitats.

"These kids hopefully will have a better appreciation for insects," Ekelson said.


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