Monday, October 30, 2023

Fall 2023 Wild Edibles Nature Experienceship Report

The Wild Edibles Nature Experienceship taught by Dr. Tom Smith has become a fast growing favorite among the programs offered by the Bean Life Science Museum. This year's class held on Saturday, October 14th began with a brief overview of the joys of cooking with native ingredients along with a demonstration on how to create homemade chocolate from scratch. This was just the beginning of both an exciting and delicious morning spent exploring the BYU grounds and discovering the plentiful sources of food found here. One of the first and most surprising edibles found here as shown by Dr. Smith are that the flowers of the Day Lily, located all around campus, are not only edible but also rather sweet to the taste. The red berries found on Yew bushes are also quite tasty even if a bit slimy. Remember to spit out the seeds if eaten raw, or cook them into a jam. 

After wandering around the gardens by the Life Science Building and learning about the wide variety of edible plant life found there we returned to the classroom. We were then treated to an array of sweets and treats all created from the plant life we had just observed. We proceeded to taste not only acorn flour muffins and cookies but also crab apple crisp, fresh chocolate, sumac tea, a variety of jams and syrups along with Juniper berry seasoned salmon. All in all the wild edibles class was an overwhelming success.

Joseph Riggs, museum educator

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

2023 Fall Insect Nature Experienceeship

Have you ever wondered what it's like to embark on a bug-hunting expedition led by an expert in the field? Recently at the Bean Museum we had the incredible opportunity to gather a group of enthusiastic nature lovers at the Bean Life Science Museum, where Shawn Clark, a research professor at BYU and the collections manager for insects and arachnids at the museum, took us on an entomological adventure.

On Saturday September 23rd, we gathered at the museum, armed with nets, vials, and an insatiable curiosity, we set off to explore the wondrous world of insects. Our mission: to collect and identify aquatic and terrestrial insects while learning how to properly obtain and preserve them for our own collections.

We traveled to the Lower Hobble Creek Wildlife Management Area where  Dr.Clark , with his boundless knowledge and infectious enthusiasm, guided us through the process of collecting aquatic insects from the creek. With our nets and soft forceps, we stood at the water's edge, sweeping our net through the aquatic vegetation. It wasn't long before we began to uncover a hidden world of water-loving insects, from water beetles to delicate damselflies.

But our adventure didn't stop there! As we transitioned to collecting terrestrial insects, Shawn shared invaluable insights into their habits and habitats. Despite the later season and the chilly morning air, we persevered. Insects may be cold-blooded, seeking warmth as the temperature drops, but our determination was unwavering. We scoured the grassy meadows and plants, discovering an array of terrestrial insects from assorted flies and true bugs to Green Lacewings.

One of the most memorable moments of the day was our encounter with some adorable little friends - praying mantises. These curious creatures seemed just as interested in us as we were in them, and they often decided to hitch a ride on our clothing. 

As we collected our insect treasures, Shawn taught us how to preserve them using alcohol, ensuring that our specimens would remain in a condition for further study and admiration. Throughout our adventure, Shawn's expertise and passion for entomology shone brightly. He not only helped us identify the insects we found but also shared captivating anecdotes about their lives and ecological roles. It was a day filled with laughter, learning, and an abundance of bug-related facts.

Our bug-tastic adventure with Shawn Clark at the Bean Life Science Museum was an unforgettable experience that left us with a newfound appreciation for the incredible diversity and beauty of insects. 

Emma, museum educator