A short post just to share something cool we did last week that I've done before but alone. This time, Zoe Dapore and Makayla Dean (both undergraduate students working in the lab) tagged along for the ride.
First, we needed crayfish. Long story short we had an issue in the lab with our extra specimens so we had to go catch some. That ended up being a good thing since we went in town catching some very local crayfish, the Kentucky River crayfish (Faxonius juvenilis, previously known as Orconectes juvenilis but see a paper from 2017 by Krandall and Crave for the phylogeny and nomenclature modifications - email me for the paper if you're dying to read it).
With the crayfish in hand, we were able to go to Malboro park in town and present those very local crayfish to all the kids and their parents for their enjoyment and curiosity. Zoe handled the booth alone this morning after I helped setting things up (it was hard to let go and leave but I know it was the right thing to do, I would have gotten in the way anyway). This field trip, although very local, wasn't without some interesting ups and downs: after loosing our first catch and several creeks empty of crayfish but filled with spiders, we finally hit a nice spot next to Armstrong Mill road and Tates Creek only to see Zoe fall into the water completely soaking herself from the waist down (it was all in good fun).
All that to say that it is very easy to bring our specimens to the general public, doesn't take that much time (field trip ~ 2 hours and the event ~ 4 hours), and is highly rewarding both for us and the public we have the chance to interact. Finally, let us not forget that without outreach, what we do has only knowledge accumulation value (so far, who knows in the future) ... not to say it's a bad thing, far from it, but with those low hanging fruits that outreach provides it would be a shame to not go for it: get out there, meet the local population, and share your passion!
Props to Makayla and Zoe for their help and innovations: the small specimen preserved in alcohol as well as pinned down adults (after they died of natural causes, no sacrifices in our lab) for a better booth that I would have ever prepared.