Sam Jaffe - Founder and Executive Director

Samuel Jaffe is a New England based naturalist, photographer, and educator who has been working with native insects since a very early age.  Sam grew up in Eastern Massachusetts chasing birds, mucking through ponds, and turning over leaves.  For the last seven years he has been photographing caterpillars and organizing programs to promote these special creatures to the public.  In 2013 he founded "The Caterpillar Lab" in Keene NH and he now travels across the country working with museums, nature centers, schools, and individual teachers helping native insects find their place in our everyday lives.  When he is not behind the camera or tending his zoo of caterpillars, you can invariably find Sam up to his waist in vegetation.

Jesse Varga - Lab Manager

Jesse has a background in biology and outdoor education, including summer camps, outdoor classrooms, natural history museums, and raptor programs.  He is a fantastic story teller and a favorite at all of our shows.  Bottom line: he loves to teach about nature!  As the lab manager, his focus is on the people of the lab as much as the caterpillars: the lab staff is a great group of very hard-working people, and Jesse tries to make sure everyone is doing all right.  He accomplishes this mainly through lots and lots of fruit snacks.

Courtney McLaughlin - Open Hours and In-House Programs

Courtney is a lifelong enthusiast of the insect world. From trying to tote handfuls of eastern tent caterpillars into her childhood home in Virginia to raising assassin bugs with the pre-k classrooms she taught in, entomology has always been a subject that garners her excitement and curiosity to learn more. Her personal mission is to help people understand the insect world a little better rather than falling back on their preconceived notions, and appreciate that things people may deem as gross can actually be really interesting! She is delighted to be able to join The Caterpillar Lab after spending years sharing their videos and trading cards with her students.

Sara Burrell – Staff Support and Education

Sara Burrell grew up in the Wyoming Rockies and developed an early love for all things natural science. With a background in geology, biology, and outdoor education, she was drawn to an environmental education program at Antioch University New England. Through her summer internship with The Caterpillar Lab she was able to explore new passions and interests that have launched her into a new educational pathway. She believes that caterpillars are a valuable tool to explore deeper connections with both the ecological and social communities of New England. She is excited to merge her experience with the Lab and explore new horizons in environmental education!

Sloan Tomlinson - Parasitoid Wasp Specialist and Educator

Sloan Tomlinson is an artist, naturalist, and “autodidactic entomologist”, with his two intertwined lifelong passions being art and insects. From his earliest memories Sloan was out in the fields and woods exploring the wonders of insects, and often returning home to draw them. Sloan brings creativity and an unusual obsession with wasps to the lab; he loves nothing more than to go into great detail about parasitoid wasp life cycles, so just ask him! He is thrilled to join the team at the Lab and put his wasp knowledge to good use, and to study more about the Lepidopterans the wasps come out of.

Monica Foley - Veteran Wrangler

Monica Foley has been wrangling caterpillars at The Caterpillar Lab for the past three summers. For the rest of the year, she wrangles high school students and teaches them Biology and Anatomy, using caterpillars as a talking point far more often than they have advised her is "normal".  Monica is partial to caterpillars that have mops of brightly colored hair or stinging spines, which she finds most adorable.


Now Monica has developed a dangerous addiction for spiders and keeps jumping spiders, widows, and a tarantula named Rosie next to her caterpillars in the classroom.  

Diana Bailey and Robert Jaffe - Volunteers

Diana and Robert were very early supporters of The Caterpillar Lab.  It's first location was in their dining room, where their 4 year old son Sam had brought home caterpillars from day care. They claim to have warm memories of dinners to the accompaniment of the soft pitter-patter of falling frass and the occasional venturesome cat taking a walk-about the house.  Now Diana and Bob both help out at The Caterpillar Lab shows whenever they can, channeling warm memories and watching with pleasure as Sam and the staff of the TCL bring the delights of these small creatures to new generations!

Linda Raibert - Founding Member

Linda Raibert partnered with Sam Jaffe during the early days of "the caterpillar project", working to design and implement the very first live caterpillar exhibits at Boston Children's Museum and various Mass Audubon Sanctuaries. Rearing caterpillars in her Hyde Park, Boston apartment and exploring the Blue Hills just to the south, Linda found a lot to be excited about in the natural world. As an early partner in the caterpillar project, Linda's creativity and eagerness to teach helped formulate some of the foundational principles that make what is now The Caterpillar Lab the unique organization it is today. Though she now works in another field, one a little less buggy, Linda continues to be a champion of what we do at the lab and still joins our outreach events from time to time.

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