Staff research associate/beekeeper Billy Synk of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis shows BioBoot Camp participants his bees. The boy in front, next to him (arms crossed) is Bjorn Bush of Woodland. Kathy Keatley Garvey/Courtesy photo

Local News

Kids learn about the birds and bees, and more

By From page A9 | June 30, 2013

It’s not just about the birds and the bees — the BioBoot Camp at UC Davis focuses on biological science and research.

Sixteen junior high school students spent the week of June 17-21 absorbing all things science at UCD. Ranging in age from 12 to 14, they came from the greater Sacramento area and as far away as Arizona in a camp organized and directed by Tabatha Yang, outreach and education coordinator at the Bohart Museum of Entomology and the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology.

“It was a great group of kids and we did a lot of cool stuff,” Yang said.

The students prepared museum specimens; spent the night at the Sagehen Field Station, operated by UC Berkeley; and toured the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and the adjacent Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee-friendly garden.

Laidlaw staff research associate Billy Synk opened the hives and let each teenager handle a drone, a male bee. They also sampled honey.

Graduate and undergraduate students assist with the annual BioBoot Camp, now in its third year. They conduct many of the sessions, sharing their experiences and knowledge.

“Due to popular demand, this year we added a high school camp,” Yang said. The high school activities included birding, identifying insects and plants, conducting a butterfly survey at Putah Creek and touring the Botanical Conservatory.

The annual camps are sponsored by the Bohart Museum of Entomology and the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology in coordination with Campus Recreation Youth Programs. Youths are required to write an essay on why they want to attend. Scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the $395 fee, which includes an overnighter for the junior high students. Last year the overnighter took place at the UCD Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory.

Excerpts from two of the applicants’ essays:

* A 14-year-old boy: “I’ve wanted to be an entomologist and herpetologist since I was 5. I like to find and collect insects, reptiles and amphibians. Since I plan on getting my degree from UC Davis, I think this would be a fun and interesting way to learn about the entomology program.”

* A 13-year-old girl, a returnee: “By far this is the best camp I’ve attended. I felt like I belonged there, with all the other kids that like science and animals. This camp gave me a chance to totally be myself! I could be as involved with science and nature-related stuff without worrying someone would bother me about it being weird. It was such a relief! I can’t wait till camp starts again. … BioBoot Camp is the best.”

Kathy Keatley Garvey

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