By Gwen Pearson
The Insect Expo Rides again! After a long hiatus, the Entomological Foundation and ESA hosted the 2013 Austin Insect Rodeo Expo. The Expo is a free outreach event for kids of all ages. Over 1,300 people attended the Expo, hosted at the Bullock State History Museum. Fifty entomologists volunteered to help and happily sacrificed a little professional dignity to provide some hands-on educational activities, including Maggot Art, Antennae Making, Termite Racing, and Bee Dancing. Forty K-12 teachers also attended a workshop about using insects to teach science.
What does it take to get ready for that many people? A lot of work:
Marianne Shockley, Chair of ESA’s Education and Outreach Committee, said bringing the Expo back had been on her radar for a while, and she and other committee members worked closely with the Entomological Foundation to make it happen.
“We agreed in Knoxville to bring the Expo back and have been planning for a year. We had incredible support from the Entomological Foundation’s Mariel Snyder to make it happen this year.”
Andrine A. Shufran, Insect Adventure Coordinator at Oklahoma State University, served as Co-Chair for the Expo and provided many of the activities for kids, as well as the live insects for the Petting Zoo. Sponsors included Bayer Environmental Science, Dow AgroSciences, Marrone Bio Innovations, Trece, Ocean Pest Consultants, Clarke, Great Lakes IPM, Bruce and Becky Monke, Alvin and Edith Simmons, Whole Foods Market, Rayda Krell, and some anonymous donors.
Visitors clearly had a great time, as you can see in the following video:
The last Insect Expo was held in 1999. Several sources confirmed off the record that the reason for the long pause was primarily liability and insurance. It turns out that the records on past Insect Expos are a bit sparse — do you have info on the history? When was the FIRST National Insect Expo held? Please let us know in the comments!
Gwen Pearson is the entomologist formerly known as Bug Girl. She obtained her PhD in entomology from North Carolina State University, and her Charismatic Minifauna blog appears in Wired Magazine. Follow her on Twitter at @bug_girl.