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Sam Droege and "Bee Science" Come to SEED School
Washington DC, November, 2010 - In November, Sam Droege, a wildlife biologist at the Unites States Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel Maryland, enthralled SEED students by telling them about his bee adventures and how his interests and exploits as a kid led to his current work. Droege had just returned from a trip to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where he collected and studied native bees. Surprisingly the military base proved a rich source of previously unknown and rare bees. He described his techniques and the inherent discomfort of the research in the hot climate. To capture the bees, Droege and his team set out several small common plastic bowls throughout the area. The different colored bowls are filled with soapy water. The color mimics flowers and attracts the bees: the soap reduces the surface tension of the water and the bees get stuck. After several days, the team collects the bowls to study the types of bees and their characteristics. Droege also showed the students that a wide variety of common and exotic bees can be captured in local areas including Washington DC and Baltimore Harbor. The kids could relate to the areas nearby where new bee species were found. He also discussed the importance of pollinators in our food chain and in our world.
Sam Droege grew up not far from The SEED School. At an early age he became interested in birds. He borrowed a book on local birds of Maryland from his local library over and over again. Sam liked the book so much that he wanted to have one for his own and contacted the publisher, only to find out the book was no longer in print. Figuring that the author might have additional copies and that he likely lived nearby because the book was about local birds, he searched the Yellow Pages for the author’s contact information. He called several phone numbers and eventually managed to reach the author’s brother who put him in contact with researchers at Patuxent, where he now works. After interning in high school at Patuxent, Droege went to the University of Maryland, graduating in 1980 with a B.A. in biology. He then went on to S.U.N.Y. Syracuse to complete a master’s degree in wildlife management. Now he gets paid for doing what he loves,: designing, testing, and implementing of monitoring programs for both plants and animals. He also spends a lot of time inspiring kids to study science through his volunteer and community efforts.
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