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Week 1 & 2

I am excited that my internship is officially underway! In the midst of these uncertain times, my work has started out remotely. Professor Losey, one of my supervisors, directs the Lost Ladybug Project (LLP), a citizen science program that seeks to understand the rapidly changing diversity and distribution of ladybugs in North America. The LLP has posters listing the ladybug species found in other states, like Maine and South Dakota, but doesn’t have one for New York.

One of my first tasks is to create a poster of ladybugs found in New York. The existing posters show pictures of the pinned ladybug specimens, but we wanted to show pictures of ladybugs in their natural habitat.

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Week 3

After lots of work, our ladybug poster is finally coming together! After reviewing many images of ladybug species to choose the best that show variation in color and pattern, I and a team from the Lost Ladybug Project picked the best images for the poster. I arranged the images according to species and added graphics to the poster to make it appealing and informational. Now, I’m awaiting feedback from the Lost Ladybug team to help improve the poster.

The current draft of the Ladybugs of NY poster

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Week 4

This week, I met with Roger to plan the stops on our self-guided garden tour. Our tour will feature information on the garden’s history, pollinator habitats and plantings, hardy berry plantings, composting, the garden’s outdoor classroom, Cornell Vegetable trials, a permaculture guild, and an apple espalier. (A living fruit tree fence!) I hope this tour will inspire visitors to pause and to take in the garden’s scents, scenes, and wildlife. I think visiting the garden is an opportunity to think about how nature doesn’t change — how it always marches forward according to its plan even as we humans pause and change our normal routines.

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Week 5

The finished handout box and stand.

Before we can have self-guided tours in the teaching garden, there had to be a way to distribute the tour handouts that I’ll be creating. Roger and I addressed this by putting more acrylic handout boxes throughout the garden.

First, we had to create places to mount these boxes. Using scraps of wooden posts and hemlock boards donated from Brett Chedzoy, CCE Schuyler’s forestry educator, we created 3 more stands for handout boxes. Then, Roger and I set the stands into the ground and attached the acrylic boxes.

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Week 6

One of my most important tasks so far has been repairing the teaching garden’s “bee hotel” — a structure that gives native solitary bees a place to nest.

A drunk driver destroyed the hotel in a hit-and-run accident on March 8th of this year. The hotel broke free from its foundation and its roof came off. Some of the wood in the hotel’s main structure had broken, too. Since its construction in 2017, the bee hotel was one of the teaching garden’s main attractions.

A video of the teaching garden’s Bee Hotel last summer before it was destroyed.

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Week 7

This week, it was time to revisit the Ladybugs of New York poster. After feedback via email from Professor Losey and Todd Ugine (a Research Associate in Prof. Losey’s lab), I needed to make several changes to the first draft of my poster, including:

  • Improving the spacing and layout of ladybug images.
  • For each species, highlighting one image as “featured” with two other less prominent images to show variation in marking and color.
  • Changing backgrounds to improve readability.
  • Adding key features for each species to aid with identification.
  • Adding key footnotes including a definition of pronotum, a note that New York has more than 11 ladybug species, and authors.
The newest version of the ladybug poster

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Week 8, 9, and 10

The finished bee hotel in the teaching garden.

After many weeks of work on different projects, my internship was finally coming to a close.

Roger and I finished work on the bee hotel by reattaching the roof and bolting the hotel back on to its concrete base. Now the bee hotel has been restored to its former prominence within the teaching garden. It will serve to teach visitors about the importance of native pollinators and provide critical nesting habitat for wild bees.

The final project of my internship involved creating a self-guided tour of the garden. Normally, there are teams of volunteers in the garden who take care of plantings, maintain the compost, weed, and harvest the produce. In normal circumstances, volunteers would happily give tours to visitors, but because of the pandemic, volunteers are in the garden less often. A self-guided tour will ensure that visitors can still learn about the many hidden gems in the garden.

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