Antioch University New England (AUNE) announces a new collaboration with The Caterpillar Lab (TCL), a nonprofit program that features native New England caterpillars in educational programs, research initiatives, photography and film projects. Executive Director Sam Jaffe launched The Caterpillar Lab while a graduate student at AUNE through a Kickstarter campaign to foster greater appreciation of the natural world.
The alliance between AUNE and TCL recognizes their shared goals to develop and deliver educational and scientific programming. AUNE will serve as a fiscal agent and provide grant management and event promotion support. The Caterpillar Lab will support AUNE’s scientific and educational work through presentations, demonstrations, and by promoting citizen science in the community. Jaffe, who was appointed as a member of AUNE’s research faculty, will supervise AUNE graduate students through an internship program at TCL.
“AUNE offers a truly transformative learning experience to our students,” President Jones said. “What better way to symbolize that educational transformation than through Sam’s hands-on caterpillar lab, where metamorphosis is the MO! Sam Jaffe brings passion, deep knowledge, and an artist’s eye to the innovative learning vehicle he’s created. Antioch University has been defining and refining creative education since 1852. The Caterpillar Lab holds tight to that spirit of entrepreneurial learning and discovery.”
TCL’s reach and prominence has grown steadily since Jaffe launched it in 2013. He’s fielded requests for exhibits at the MIT Center for Theoretical Physics and at the Boston Children’s Museum. Recently the BBC filmed his caterpillars for a documentary now in production. Jaffe and his team travel throughout New England to museums, camps and classrooms to educate people about caterpillars and nature.
“We raise thousands of caterpillars at an open-to-the-public lab facility and bring them to museums, nature centers, camps, schools and universities, where we present these under-appreciated, but undeniably awesome creatures,” Jaffe said. “During our programs we demonstrate the amazing diversity and value of our own local ecosystems. We encourage open exploration and natural discovery. We teach detailed and unexpected lessons in insect biology, evolution and metamorphosis. We stress the need for environmental respect and conservation, and we change people’s minds about ‘creepy’ insects.”
Since childhood, Jaffe has been fascinated by the natural world. He studied evolutionary biology at Brown University. As a graduate student at AUNE, he wanted to learn how to help people better see the world around them. As an accomplished natural history photographer, naturalist, and biologist, he’s achieving his goal by using these talents to do just that through the Caterpillar Lab.
The Caterpillar Lab is located at the Colony Mill Marketplace at 222 West Street in Keene on the second floor. It is open to the public from noon to 5 pm on Sundays in May, June, September and October; from noon to 5 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays in May through November 1; and from 6 to 8 pm on Wednesdays in May through November 1. The exhibit includes film, photography and more than 800 live caterpillars. When the caterpillars become moths, butterflies, or winged insects, they are returned to their habitat. Donations are accepted but there is no charge for entry.
About The Caterpillar Lab and Antioch University New England
The Caterpillar Lab fosters a greater appreciation for the complexity and beauty of our local natural history through live caterpillar educational programs, research initiatives, and photography and film projects. Antioch University New England serves as a fiscal agent for The Caterpillar Lab. The partnership between AUNE and TLC jointly supports both organizations’ educational and scientific work. Founded in 1964, Antioch University New England’s commitment to social, economic, and environmental justice serves as a foundation for all certificate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Coursework integrates practice with theory in an environment that fosters scholarship and activism. Academic departments include Applied Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Education, Environmental Studies, Management, and Self-Designed Studies. Based in Keene, New Hampshire, AUNE is within a two hour drive from Albany, Boston, and Hartford. For more information, visit antiochne.edu.