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The Bug Chicks: It’s Time to Reclaim Nature Programming

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Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker are The Bug Chicks, entomologists who teach about the amazing world of arthropods. ©thebugchicks.com

Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker are The Bug Chicks, entomologists who teach about the amazing world of arthropods. ©thebugchicks.com

Not to date ourselves, but we are children of the 80’s. We grew up watching shows like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and we know the National Geographic theme song better than the national anthem. It was the good old days of nature programming, when shows inspired a sense of wonder. At the end of the hour you understood the true definition of the word “awesome.”

We went to sleep at night thinking of far off lands filled with bizarre creatures. We dreamed of filming them, studying them—those shows inspired a generation of young people to ask how, where, what, why? Those shows inspired us to grow up to become scientists.

Sadly, a lot of programming today forces people to ask: how can I conquer nature? Why are the animals out to get us? What techniques can I use when (not if) an animal attacks? It’s as though an animal attack is our biggest threat, like our lives are an inevitable march toward final gasping moments filled with teeth, fins, fangs, stingers and venom.

Fangs are mouthparts—why is that scary? Do you fear giraffe teeth? Maybe if they were accompanied by creepy music and overdramatic voice-overs, you would. ©thebugchicks.com

Fangs are mouthparts—why is that scary? Do you fear giraffe teeth? Maybe if they were accompanied by creepy music and overdramatic voice-overs, you would. ©thebugchicks.com

So many nature programs want us to believe that we are constantly under attack by the world’s deadliest, or a monster this or killer that. If you are attacked you get to be on a show about how you survived the attack! People at home are patting themselves on the back thinking well, I made it through the day without getting maimed by an animal! I win! (Even though many people didn’t make it through the day driving to the grocery store…)

It’s time to reclaim science and nature programming. We are The Bug Chicks. After graduate school, we decided to create a company that specializes in fun, accessible, educational content. We’ve made over 50 videos to teach people about the amazing world of arthropods—insects, spiders and other animals with exoskeletons. It’s a true calling for us where we blend our backgrounds in science, theater, art and teaching to create unique, factual and often quirky material. No myths, no fear and no prejudice.

Our latest project is a perfect blend of nature, education and the power of social media.

We are going on a cross-country adventure to film the awesome bugs of the United States! Using a vintage sofa as our set piece in wild ecosystems across the country, we will inspire you to “get off the couch” and explore America’s backyard wilderness.

The Bug Chicks - Indiegogo

This new series will be fully integrated with mobile technology through a partnership with Project Noah (an app supported by National Geographic) where people can upload photos of insects and other arthropods found along the route. This allows interaction with students and citizen scientists all over the world. We will live-blog and tweet related behind-the-scenes clips, how-to videos and additional on the site and through social media. The final show will be available on YouTube in November.

If you support positive programming, strong female role models and factual science education, please consider contributing to our Indiegogo campaign.

For many young scientists, there are set paths to take upon attaining your advanced degree: research, extension, academia, outreach, etc. For us, there was no question that science outreach was the path for us. It’s turned into a bit of a crusade and we’re excited to have you on our side!

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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