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We’re Back: Chronicle of a Lost Year

**This post was difficult to write. I’m known as the funny one. I make silly faces and do insect impersonations. I give inspirational speeches in workshops that make moms cry. I help scared kids to hold roaches and see that they are capable of more than they believe. They look at me like I am invincible.

I also tell each person we teach to Be Brave. So here goes…

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We have not posted on this site for over a year. The last people heard, we were embarking on an incredible journey to film America’s arthropods for a new series in partnership with Project Noah. Our trip was sponsored by so many wonderful organizations and funders on Indigogo. The month we spent on the road filming ranks among the best times of our lives. It was it was supposed to be the beginning of a dream– our own show.

When we returned home, my life imploded. I went through a divorce.  I’m not here to tell you all about it– that is not the nature of our blog. Doesn’t matter who or what or why or how. But as a small business owner I need to be honest; it tore my world apart in every way. I didn’t think Jess and I and The Bug Chicks would make it through the last year intact. I certainly almost didn’t.

When you go through a divorce, you grieve the loss of a dream. In the darkest moments, you fear you will be incapable of dreaming ever again. So what happens if your work is also based on the currency of dreams? You get a little lost.

For TBC, it was supposed to be a year filled with opportunity, connections and getting to the ever-elusive “next level” (you know, the one where you can eat and start to pay your student loans). The tectonic shift in my personal life had serious repercussions for our business, our reach and our goals.  Some chances will never come again.  Others, hopefully, can be picked up and dusted off.  More opportunities greet us each week and we are grateful for that.

As a result of our lost year, we have had to make some serious decisions about how and if we should continue with our business. We’ve made a lot of poor choices. We’ve been overwhelmed, naive and in some ways ignorant. We’ve been small business owners who are learning our way through the maze of creating a life we love and shaping it as we go. We have learned that we are a creative force and that we need a business manager to truly succeed.

Small businesses fail every day. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you try harder, work smarter, cut the fat, milk a purple cow or bounce ideas off walls until one sticks. (More often they bounce and bean you between your eyes which are already hurting due to computer strain.)

From here on out, I could focus all of my energy on how we could be better. I’m a professional “be better-er.” But if it all goes down the tubes as we try to rebuild I need to remember and recognize that in 3 years of actual business and 4 years of hobby before that, we have accomplished some amazing things. It’s healthy to see where you could do better in the future. It is also incredibly valuable to be able to nod your head and say, “Yes, we did that. And it was good.”  So before we jump back in to see if there’s still life in The Bug Chicks, let’s reflect shall we?

 

Some Past Accomplishments:

  • Consultants for the Norman Borlaug Institute (4 trips to Guatemala)
  • 51 videos written & produced for organizations including-
    • Texas A&M University
    • US Forest Service
    • National Ag Science Center
    • Junior Master Gardener
    • WormWatcher
    • Renaissance School of Arts & Sciences
    • Entomological Society of America
  • Featured bloggers for Science Friday
  • Semi-successful Indigogo Campaign and a 5-week cross country filming trip in a new minivan loaned to us by Honda
  • Opened BUGS! museum exhibit at Sam Noble Museum
  • Taught over 50,000 people in interactive workshops/appearances
  • Filmed a television pre-pilot
  • 2 bug video camps with Leach Botanical Gardens
  • Renovated museum exhibit at National Museums of Kenya
  • Bug Bytes podcast with over 80,000 subscribers
  • Self-published coloring book
  • Full-time Bug Chicks for 2 years
  • Featured on PBS’ EarthFix and get regular airplay on Oregon Public Broadcasting
  • Filmed in US, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Kenya, Australia
  • some AWESOME press

Work to do:

  • Raise $40,000 to edit & distribute the Sofa Safari
  • Find a business manager
  • Step into our destiny as female role models in media
  • Blog each week
  • convert from primarily service based business to product based brand
  • Write people back who have written or called
  • Manage our money/expenses better
  • Get involved in Girl Education Campaign
  • Pick up dropped connections
  • Publish children’s science book series, Actual Factuals
  • Pitch 2 television shows (Bug Chicks kids series) (Cultural Entomology history show)
  • Time management
  • Pay off our business debt
  • Add income streams
  • Streamline business process
  • Get paid what we are worth
  • Get our mojo back and use our voices

 

It’s going to be difficult.  If going through divorce has taught me anything, it is how to be brutally honest with myself. We might not make it. But I am proud of the work we have done, of the dreams we have dared and the path we have hacked to get here, no matter the outcome.

Before I sign off, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors and Indiegogo funders on the Sofa Safari for their patience as we rebuild, the schools and libraries who hire us to teach children and the many, many bugdorks who take the time to write to us. We are getting back to you.

Think of this last year like we were in the pupal stage. We just emerged and our wings are drying out. It’s time to see if we can fly.

Had to get a bad insect analogy in here somewhere.

–Kristie

 

 

 

 

New Show!

New Show!

The Show

Follow us as we film the incredible insects and spiders of America! This coast-to-coast journey will take place with a vintage sofa that will be placed in different ecosystems across the country. At each stop we will inspire you to “get off the couch” to explore America’s backyard wilderness and the most diverse animals on the planet. Wanna come???

Partners 

Project Noah (supported by National Geographic) is an online repository for digital wildlife images from around the world. Their goal is to help people connect with nature and foster an appreciation of local wildlife. By involving scientists, students, and citizen scientists, Project Noah helps to gather important ecological and biological data while striving to preserve biodiversity. We are so excited to be working with them on this awesome project!

We are also proud to announce Texas A&M University’s Department of Entomology, the United States Forest ServiceGobi Gear and Betsy & Iya as official sponsors! More to come on this soon!

Watch

This show will air on YouTube inNovember, 2013. Each episode will be linked with new National Science Framework Standards that help teachers to promote critical thinking skills. DVDs of the series will be available through various outlets along with curricula.

Each week we will highlight an episode on Project Noah’s Official Blog, and NPR’s Science Friday website, where we are featured guest bloggers. Our episodes have the potential to reach over 1.5 million people each month through these websites.

Get Involved!

Project Noah will create a “Bug Chicks Mission” to document the animals we see during our trip (in real-time). People worldwide can follow along on the journey through this Mission, and add their own photos of organisms found along our route!

 

Roger that, Grandma

Roger that, Grandma

 
This is a re-post of an original Bug Chicks post on Science Friday.

 

Last week, while we were teaching on the east coast, we decided to visit Kristie’s 97-year old grandmother. Kristie hadn’t seen her in about three years and wanted to interview her about her life and family history. During the filmed conversation, Kristie realized that we should write about her grandma for our final post during Women’s History Month.

 

As one of the first female air traffic controllers (a STEM career), she definitely made history on July 28, 1945 when a B-25 bomber crashed into the Empire State Building in New York City. She was the traffic controller who told the pilot not to approach Manhattan, as the weather in the area was very bad. Although she instructed him to land rather than press through to his destination in Newark, NJ, he didn’t heed her warnings. Because of the thick fog, he didn’t see the building until it was too late and flew his plane into the 79th floor. As a result, a law was passed shortly thereafter that pilots needed to heed the word of air traffic controllers.
 

Photo courtesy of Hildegarde Oberhofer.

In 1945, Kristie’s grandmother was a woman in a man’s world. She studied meteorology, technology, and geometry, often performing calculations in her head to help pilots land safely when planes were stacked on top of each other in three dimensional space. While her husband was fighting in World War II, she was breaking barriers here in the U.S.

 

Listening to Grandma “Obie” tell Kristie the story was inspiring, and we’re so grateful for the time we spent with her. She had some sage words about how people didn’t listen to women in those days. Watch the video to hear this amazing woman tell a bit of her history.

 


 
 

The Future of Women’s History

The Future of Women's History

 

This is a re-post of an original Bug Chicks post on Science Friday.

 

At the start of every workshop, I make a startling confession: I used to be the girl who would scream for her daddy when a spider was near. I’d cry, shake, and often be paralyzed in my bed (especially that one time when a spider was on my nightlight, and it cast a huge moving spider shadow on the wall by my head. That time, my sister, brave girl, ran to wake my father to come and save the day—to kill the spider and make me feel safe.) I was that girl.

 

So, how did I get to be this girl? The arachnid-studying, adventure-loving, no-fear-mantra-slinging Bug Chick? I never imagined that this would be my life. I never knew I had it in me. But somewhere along the way I made a choice to be brave, open my mind, and learn. We ask each student to make that choice during our workshops. You’ll never know who you could be, unless you push yourself to be brave.

 

 

On March 2, one day into Women’s History Month, we taught 46 very special young women at St. Mary’s Academy, an all-girls high school in Portland, OR. We spent the morning with the TIES program (Teaching, Integrating & Exploring Science), “a science mentoring program pairing St. Mary’s Academy students with fifth-grade girls from local parochial schools.”

 

 

We spoke about our work and the importance of arthropods. They held beetles and bashed misconceptions. Half of the girls raised their hands when we asked, “How many of you feel a bit skeeved by bugs?” The response was fairly evenly distributed between the older and younger girls. Since peer-teaching is a particular passion of ours, it was interesting to watch some of the fifth graders helping older mentors get over their fears of touching or holding the insects. By the end of the morning, the girls had claimed victory over their anxieties. Through tears, squeals, laughter, and encouragement the girls had pushed themselves to be brave.

 

For us though, the best part of the day was talking about careers and the concept of science as a daily activity. At one point, each pair was given a beetle larva. They were asked to make observations and use them to come up with questions. In other words, they were asked to do science. We explained that science is, in essence, organized curiosity. We revealed the shocking truth that the wrong answer or not knowing the answer is the basis of science and that it’s not a bad thing. Finally, we admitted that the “right” answer is always changing as scientists learn more and create more powerful tools to explore this world and beyond. More than half the group said they were interested in a career in science.

 

*AN ASIDE:  I get irritated when I read articles that say we shouldn’t try to get more people into the sciences because there aren’t enough professor or post-doc jobs as it is. It’s a narrow, limiting, and dangerous argument. Not everyone is going to BE a scientist. Some will be writers and communicators, others teachers, and many will be parents of youngsters. We should work to make science accessible and concepts attainable so that we create a society that celebrates and expects scientific literacy.

 

 

This month people all over the country will be talking, writing, and speaking about great women in history who are an inspiration to both women and men. We will, too. Jess and I will also take a few moments to remember that we have the incredible privilege of being able to speak directly with young women who will make history in the future. They will inspire others in different ways—through various mediums, careers, and voices. We are so grateful for this chance to teach others about passion for biodiversity and the nature of science. We may never make history, but every week we teach young women who could.

 

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AGREEMENT AND LICENSE TO ACCESS AND DISPLAY

The Insects! VIDEO SERIES

 

  1. Solpugid Productions LLC, doing business as The Bug Chicks, owns and reserves all rights in and arising from the The Insects! Video Series.  Only the Bug Chicks may publish, disseminate, use, license, modify, or alter the Insects Series.
  1. In exchange for Purchaser’s non-refundable payment as part of this transaction, The Bug Chicks license to Purchaser the limited right to access and display – through a year-long membership that is gifted to either: one K-12 school, one homeschool group, or one individual/family for PRIVAYE USE ONLY – the series for a period of one year from the purchase date.
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SPECIAL NOTE: Thank you so much for your cooperation on this! We are a small business dedicated to providing teachers, students and awesome parents with excellent science programming. Help us by spreading the word about our work, so that we can create more for you!

Sincerely,

Kristie and Jessica

The Bug Chicks

 

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