Love for bugs

Chanute High School Paraprofessional Vicky Wallace reviews her butterfly collection with Environmental Science students Chryspian Dean and Gaia Sebastini.

ADRIENNE WAHL

Vicky Wallace was bitten by the entomology bug early on in life. Now as a paraprofessional for Chanute High School, she’s sharing her vast knowledge with students in Brian Gahagan’s Environmental Science classes and Caitlyn Wedel’s Introduction to Agriculture class. 

Wallace doesn’t remember a time before she collected insects. 

“They (her parents) tell me that as soon as I started walking, I was catching them in my hands and bringing them in,” she said. 

Her father was an agricultural consultant who helped her learn how to properly collect bugs and she had several 4-H leaders who taught her the practice, as well. Her collection now amounts to about 7,000 preserved bugs, as well as several thousand more stored to be preserved and mounted. 

She began sharing her knowledge with others early on in her life, serving as a 4-H project leader when she was a freshman in high school. She now judges for the organization at the state level for entomology. She also presents to scout troops, garden clubs and is open to anyone who wants to learn more about how insects are a crucial part of the ecosystem. 

“Insects are crucial for us,” she said. “They aren’t scary. We need to respect them.” 

Gahagan said that Wallace is an invaluable resource for his class as they study entomology, they have caught their own bugs and learned to preserve and mount them, in addition to learning from Wallace’s collection. 

“It is something that the kids can be really hands on with,” he said. “It’s perfect and they lear

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