The Caterpillar Lab fosters greater appreciation and care for the complexity and beauty of our local natural history through live caterpillar educational programs, research initiatives, and photography and film projects. We believe that an increased awareness of one’s local environment is the foundation on which healthy and responsible attitudes towards the broader natural systems of this world is built.

© 2015 CATERPILLAR LAB INC.  With original artwork by Heather Reid and Samuel Jaffe

 

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OUR MISSION IS TO REACH YOU

BOOK A PROGRAM WITH US TODAY!
WHAT PROGRAMS WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT?

* Our standard programing season runs from April 1st through October 31st, though there may be oportunity to book off-season programs as well.  Currently our programing range encompasses New England and parts of New York.

 

 

Email us to book a program today!

OPEN HOURS & IN HOUSE PROGRAMING

Open Hours 

 

Open hours at The Caterpillar Lab facility are FREE and open to the general public.  They are an opportunity to come and see what we do "behind the scenes".  We hold open hours at least two days a week between April 1st through October 31st.  Check back in the spring for our specific schedule of open hours or check out our location page for more details!

 

In-House Programing:

 

Suggested audience:  We can tailor these programs to reach anyone.  In the past we have had homeschool groups, middle school science classes, teacher groups, daycares and families visit us. We even host a Harvard University entomolgy class visit each year!

 

Suggested settings:  Those able to drive to our Keene NH location.

 

What we offer:  We will work with you on planning a program that meets your educational goals. Topics can include caterpillar biology, metamorphosis, defensive adaptations, parasitism, caterpillar husbandry, photography, silk making and more.  Activities can include a caterpillar and/or food plant collection walk along Keene’s rail trail, up-close exploration of caterpillars using our digital microscopes, and many others.  See our outreach programs for more information regarding what our programs can include, or get in touch with us to start a conversation about planning and scheduling your own unique program!

 

Availability: The lab is available year-round, but programs featuring live caterpillars are only gaurenteed during our April 1 – October 31 livestock season.

LARGE SHOWS / EXHIBITS

Suggested audience:  Everyone!  These programs can be equally captivating to everyone from toddlers through golden agers.

 

Suggested settings:  Free-choice learning organizations such as nature centers and museums, company picnics, nature and farm festivals

 

What we offer:   These are the grandiose caterpillar shows we’re known for!  We showcase hundreds of native New England caterpillars, representing as many as one hundred different species.  Shows last approximately five hours.  We provide around five professional staff educators and volunteers to teach attendees of all ages about caterpillar biology, utilizing a question-and-answer format. 

 

Features include:

 

  • Caterpillars are displayed on branches of their native New England food plants, for people to observe in open air, with no barrier between our audience and our livestock.

  • Visitors explore our displays freely, choosing their own level of engagement.  Some stop by for a few minutes, and some stay for hours.

  • At our technology station, we offer a close-up look at real-time footage of intriguing caterpillar behaviors (such as molting) through a digital microscope, as well as a chance to view pre-recorded The Caterpillar Lab videos.

  • Throughout the show, we offer more directed programs on the side, including art projects, cocoon openings, and caterpillar show-and-tell.

 

Availability:  Due to the volume of caterpillars needed to put on a large show, the season for these shows is more limited than our full livestock season.  We can provide large shows from June 15 – October 15.

 

Testimonials:            

 

"A terrific inspiration and starting point for families as they begin to explore the natural world together; the live demonstrations... provide an up-close and personal view of these common yet fascinating caterpillars... enthusiasm is bound to infect our visitors and may well guide their next outdoor adventure."  -Alissa Daniels, Boston Children’s Museum

 

“…Caterpillar Day… was one of the most engaging and educational programs we’ve ever hosted!  …Visitors were so positive about their experience and spent a much longer time with Sam and his educators than they do in typical exhibitions.       “Visitors… explored caterpillar habitats, looked inside a chrysalis, and even were allowed to touch some of the caterpillars!  Groups gathered around for a closer look and everyone was actively engaged in conversation with each other.  So much learning was happening!   “When the… program occurred… I brought my entire family with me.  We spent at least an hour exploring all of the wonderful displays and we talked about the program for days afterwards.  I was particularly impressed by the educators Sam had working with him.   They were truly top-notch and not only shared interesting information, but delivered it in an engaging and friendly manner.”   -Susan Foster Jones, Concord Museum

 

“Your work inspires awe. Awe leads to care and concern. Adults and children who care will be motivated to protect the nature of Massachusetts. Your deep knowledge and love of caterpillars and your desire to share this knowledge makes you uniquely qualified to carry out this project.”  -Kristin Steinmetz, Mass Audubon's Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary

SMALL PROGAMS & SCHOOL PROGRAMS

Suggested audience:  Some small programs are suitable for very broad audiences, especially those that mimic our large shows.  Other programs can be designed to reach very specific audiences of any age or experience level.

 

Suggested settings:   Schools, summer camps, libraries, and free-choice learning organizations such as nature centers and museums.

 

What we offer:   Our small programs can take on many unique and diverse forms, making them well suited to a broad range of venues.  We bring a diverse, seasonal sampling of native New England caterpillars, generally accompanied by two professional education staff members.  Program lengths vary, generally from three to eight hours. 

 

Features of these programs may include:

 

  • Some small programs essentially involve a scaled-down version of our large shows, working well for venues that like the large show format, but have space, budget, and/or time limitations.

  • To help achieve venues’ specific educational objectives, some small programs are more formal and educator-directed than our large shows, particularly when we visit schools and summer camps.

  • We can focus small programs around distinct themes, such as metamorphosis, domesticated versus wild species comparisons, defensive adaptations, and more, offering an opportunity to delve into a particular topic in depth.

  • Using caterpillars as our base topic, we can skillfully integrate technology, art, history, anthropology, and other multidisciplinary subjects into small programs.

 

Availability:   Small programs involving live caterpillars are available from April 1 – October 31.  Specific timing depends on the quantity and species of caterpillars required.  We offer small programs from November through March that feature photographs rather than live caterpillars. During our peak season (June 15 – September 15), small programs may not be available on weekends.

 

Testimonials:            

 

“Our visits from the Caterpillar Lab were a highlight for our campers this summer. The team worked with us to develop caterpillar stations that connected to each camp group’s focus, and our staff and campers were entranced by the variety of adaptations and life strategies they saw. The kids loved the opportunity to get close to and even touch some of the caterpillars in their small groups, and our staff of teacher naturalists was impressed by Liz and Jesse’s expertise and ability to connect with the campers.”  -Carrie Webster, Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary

 

“We loved the program!  It was set up in a way that all the children could enjoy.  I truly have no weaknesses to share; I would highly recommend your presentation to anyone.  It was the perfect fit to our insect unit, enhancing the goals from our curriculum.”  -Pam Merrow, Fuller Elementary School (Keene, NH)

 

"We loved it! Kids in all our classes (grades K-5) got to participate in a session with these two scientists and their fabulous creatures. All of us learned a ton of information, got to touch and view amazing creatures doing amazing things, like popping their heads off and wriggling out of their skins.  Sam and Jesse's presentation was magical for all our students, and all were enthralled...  We can't wait for them to come again. We hope to explore our woods with them and find many of these fascinating animals right in our own back yard."  -May Clark, Dublin Consolidated School (Dublin, NH)

 

“Our goal [was] to expose people to the wonders of the caterpillar world and to expand awareness of the diversity and adaptations found there.  The Lab did that wonderfully - both visually and through imparted stories and content!  The diversity of caterpillars and taxonomic groups represented was so inspiring.  A great exposure to biodiversity!  And also loved your flexibility and willingness to meet our timing and scheduling needs!!!  …The two staffers that accompanied the exhibit were terrific!  Able to reach audience members on a wide variety of levels with great communication skills!!!  Very impressive and educationally valuable.”  -Tedd Watt, Hitchcock Center for the Environment

 

RESIDENCIES

Suggested audience: Everyone!  Our residencies can be equally captivating to everyone from toddlers through golden agers.

 

Suggested settings:   Schools, summer camps, and free-choice learning organizations such as nature centers and museums.

 

What we offer:   Residencies offer venues a chance to showcase native New England caterpillars in a longer-term fashion than our typical shows.  Rather than setting up our traditional temporary display, we work with venues to recreate the look and feel of The Caterpillar Lab’s home location.  These exhibits include a diverse array of live caterpillars, photographs taken by Executive Director Sam Jaffe, scientific tools used by lab employees, and more.  Visitors are invited to walk in and explore the mock lab on whatever level they choose.  During residencies, we provide at least one staff educator on site each day the exhibit is open to the public.  This educator is responsible for helping teach visitors, assisting with venue staff supervision within the exhibit, caring for livestock, and managing exhibit operations. 

 

Other features of residencies may include:

 

  • We can provide teacher training and professional development experiences for cooperating venue employees and volunteers, who may then gain teaching experience by working in the exhibit with our supervision.

  • Caterpillar-related paraphernalia can be provided by the Lab, such as cocoons, hatched eggs, shed skins, and more, which visitors may view through magnifying lenses and microscopes at scientific exploration tables.

  • Visitors may practice being scientists by assisting our staff with caterpillar care.

  • Programs outside the exhibit boundaries can be scheduled, including cocoon openings, outdoor host plant forays, caterpillar hunts in nearby habitats, and more.

 

Availability:     Residencies are available from June 15 – September 30, with a minimum running length of five days.

 

Testimonials:     

       

“The Caterpillar Lab has an overwhelming diversity of local caterpillar species that reveal an amazing wealth of adaptations and behaviors, but what really makes the Caterpillar Lab outstanding is their staff involvement with visitors. Caterpillar Lab staff are wonderfully knowledgeable and skillfully pull visitors to look closer at these animals and their amazing life histories - while meeting all visitors at their ability level. Every visitor leaves feeling that not only did they get to see caterpillars, but that they got a personal and up close introduction to these suddenly fascinating creatures."     -Rebecca Haynes, Montshire Museum of Science

 

"We've hosted the Caterpillar Lab twice at our museum. It’s a rare educational experience that engages all audiences and engages experts as well as novices. The caterpillars are amazing, and what makes everything work so well is the Caterpillar Lab staff’s ability to engage with people. They do a great job of helping people connect to the animals and answering questions at any level. What’s more is the discovery people make that the animals are all around us, here in New England!"     -Sherlock Terry, Montshire Museum of Science

STAFF TRAINING AND PROFFESIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Suggested audience: Professional educators and naturalists working for schools, nature centers, museums, and similar organizations

 

Suggested settings:   Depending on the number of participants, these events can take place at your venue or at our lab in Keene, NH.

 

What we offer:   We work with participants and venue collaborators to set workshop goals and design each training uniquely.  Trainings are typically led by at least two professional education staff members from The Caterpillar Lab. 

 

Topics and activities at our workshops may include:

 

  • Our staff can lead scientifically accurate, hands-on explorations of basic caterpillar biology topics, including metamorphosis, defensive adaptations, parasitism, trophic system importance, and more.

  • Attendees can participate in outdoor walks to learn how to search for caterpillars and find suitable host plants for feeding.

  • Our staff can train participants on the basics of caterpillar rearing, including “tools of the trade” and troubleshooting commonly encountered issues.

  • We can facilitate question-and-answer sessions, allowing participants to direct us toward topics of personal interest or misconception.

  • Utilizing our vast experience teaching with caterpillars, we can equip educators with appropriate terminology and techniques for teaching a variety of audiences about and with caterpillars.

 

Availability:                Trainings can be available year-round, utilizing live caterpillars from April 1 – October 31, and photograph slideshows during the rest of the year.

 

Testimonials:            

After a Mass Audubon staff training session we led in September 2015, we asked participants “What worked well?”  Here are a few of their responses:

 

“Everything!  I especially loved the videos; the passing around of the caterpillar at Sam’s station and noting characteristics and relating to larger ideas; searching for caterpillars outside; and seeing examples of rearing practices and troubleshooting strategies.”

“Everything!  I liked breakout groups, extremely knowledgeable staff, [and spending] time outdoors.”

“The fabulous livestock and host plants, plus all life cycle stages and parasite challenges.  OUTSTANDING depth of knowledge of all [The Caterpillar Lab] staff.”

“Stations were great – very fascinating topics covered and very informative.  Great tips for looking for and rearing caterpillars.”

GUERILLA EDUCATION PROGRAMS

Audience:   Varied

 

Settings:   Any!

 

What we offer:   Our guerilla education programs are just as they sound!  We surprise an audience by showing up somewhere unexpected, and teach the public about caterpillars for free.  We have run programs at markets, in downtown squares, at resteruants and bars, and just arond town.

 

Features of our guerilla education may include:

 

  • We may visit a town square or street corner with tables of caterpillar displays and a number of staff and volunteers, operating like a large or small show.

  • One of our staff members may take a couple of caterpillars to a small public space, such as a park, shopping center, or bar, and offer one-on-one, hands-on educational encounters with anyone interested.

  • When our staff members are out collecting caterpillars or host plant to feed them, we often stop to teach inquisitive members of the public about our activities.

 

We are always seeking funding opportunities to make more guerilla education endeavors possible.  If you’re interested in making a donation that supports a guerilla education event, please be in touch!

 

Availability:   April 1 – October 31         

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

Suggested audience:  Varied

 

Suggested settings:   Any!

 

What we offer:  Don’t see exactly what you’re looking for in our programs list?  We can help you with that!  If you get in touch with us, we’ll discuss your ideas and collaboratively design a plan for any program you dream up.

 

If you’re torn about which program you’d like to bring to your organization, we can also mix and match program types.  Additionally, we would be happy work with you on planning multiple programs at your location.

 

Availability:     Dependent on program type.

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To reach the widest possible audience, we offer a diverse array of engaging program options.  Our program selection is designed to engage people of any age, from any background, with any level of prior knowledge, in meaningful learning experiences about the natural history of our native caterpillars.