I am a life-long naturalist, trained biologist, photographer and passionate educator. My goal is to share all the secrets I have gathered about our local environments and about the value of our backyard ecosystems. I hope to show people that we do not need to look to far-away places to find the beauty of nature. Nature is all around us, under our feet, and in our daily lives.
Caterpillars are uniquely suited for use in natural history education and communicating science. These often bizarre creatures grab and hold attention through wonder, surprise, or disgust, and thus give educators a chance to create a myriad of important learning moments and provide opportunities for discovery.
I have used caterpillars in public natural history programing at museums, nature centers, and wildlife festivals, and shown my caterpillar photography in galleries across New England. I have guided teachers in using caterpillars in their classrooms and I have helped lots of kids get a start in raising their very first caterpillars at home. Help me this summer to bring a whole new wave of caterpillar programs to the New England area and to expand my programing into new venues, reaching new groups of people Let us make this summer's caterpillar project a reality.
- To bring a series of live caterpillar shows, workshops, and walks to the public in June, July, and August of 2013.
- To expand my programing into new venues and explore new tools for educating the public as to the value of our own native ecosystems.
- To continue working in the varied pursuits of art, nature, and science, bringing them together under one roof, in order to make each more relevant to the lives of learners.
- To lay the groundwork for continuing caterpillar programs in the years to come.
Your contributions will:
- Provide support in June, July, and August as I work, often over 80 hours a week, to find, raise, and ready caterpillars for shows.
- Train and support a staff of caterpillar educators to provide visitors with one-on-one attention during shows.
- Hire a full-time seasonal employee devoted to sustaining and building the project.
- Fund up to ten day-long caterpillar events, along with many additional walks, talks, workshops, and presentations this summer.
- Fund the purchase and integration of digital USB microscopes into my programs, so visitors can take an ever closer look into the world of caterpillars.
- Allow me to develop new integrated and hands-on curricula and publish new supporting materials.
- Allow me to expand my programing to reach new venues and connect with new groups of learners.
In 2008 I began taking photographs of native New England caterpillars. I did not imagine at the time the power that these images would have to open people's eyes to the wonders of their own back yards, but after my first exhibit it was clear that caterpillars were special. Relatively unknown and fully bizarre, caterpillars have the rare ability to surprise and captivate all who see them. So I embarked on a mission to studio photograph all of our more charismatic native caterpillars, and already my work has been featured in galleries, museum exhibits, and publications across the region.
But photography alone was not sufficient. Caterpillars could do much more. They could be used to reach so many more people and change opinions about the natural value of our native landscapes. In 2009 I held an opening for a photography show at a wildlife sanctuary visitor center. Instead of cookies and coffee, I brought in hundreds of caterpillars on dozens of displays and invited the public to come and learn about the creatures I knew so well.
At this very first caterpillar show I realized the full potential of my budding "Caterpillar Project". A project of environmental education, crossing over into the world of photography, natural history art, biological science, conservation, and more. A project that could use caterpillars to reach out to groups who know little of our natural world and to those who may have forgotten it.
Natural history photography has remained a key component of my caterpillar events. My images are displayed to give the visitors a very different look at the creatures and they are encouraged to go back and forth between the larger-than-life image and the actual creature as much as possible. Kids are encouraged to draw the caterpillars and discussions on how to photograph them are non-stop around the tables.
Every year the breadth of my caterpillar shows expands. In 2011 magnifying glasses were supplied to every visitor so that they might have an even closer experience with the creatures before them. Playing with issues of scale can provide unique learning experiences -- I am eager to introduce USB digital microscopes and viewing screens to this summer's programming.
In 2011 a series of shows at Boston Children's Museum marked a climax of my work to date. The six shows with a full caterpillar staff, thousands of live caterpillars, and thousands of visitors, all set in an urban museum, were a huge success.
Now I am looking to the 2013 summer season. Already I have lined up Boston Children's Museum, the Discovery Museum, and many Wildlife Sanctuaries across New England for caterpillar shows. And I will be continuing to schedule events at zoo's and museums throughout the year. The opportunities are endless, the venues are eager and willing. I am currently developing new curricula and lesson plans, new ways of presenting, and new ways of reaching out into the community. I am eager to take my work with caterpillars to the next level, but I need your help to do this!
As donation rewards I am offering either services or my own fine art caterpillar prints – straight from my galleries and shows. These images show some examples:
Kristin Steinmetz, Outreach Coordinator at Broad Meadow Brook Audubon Sanctuary in Worcester MA writes:
"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.
"This project will take significant resources... We encourage anyone who cares about the nature of New England to contribute to your work and to the important task of creating a new generation of people who love nature and work to protect it."
Alissa Daniels - Science Program Manager at Boston Children's Museum writes:
"[Sam's] photographs are 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. ...[Sam's] enthusiasm is bound to infect our visitors and may well guide their next outdoor adventure."
Chris Bergeron of The Metro West Daily News writes in "A kaleidoscope of caterpillars at Children's Museum":
"As organized by Jaffe, "The Caterpillars of Eastern Massachusetts" succeeds by conveying not just the stunning beauty of individual caterpillars but their varied roles in the remarkably complex bio-diversity of a backyard garden or local park.
"For kids, parents and bug lovers of all ages, Jaffe's caterpillar exhibit matches them in its passion and contagious sense of wonderment."
Go Caterpillar Program!
Risks and challenges
The single greatest risk is that I will not be able to find funding for this project. If we do not meet the set Kickstarter goal the project will get nothing. Without sufficient funds I will be unable to staff the project, do the necessary traveling, or be able to devote the necessary time needed to produce these programs. The only factor holding me back this summer is money, the better funded the project is, the more energy and imagination I can pour into it, the greater a success it will be!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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