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Harrisburg University students enrolled in Professor Robert Furey’s entomology course have set off on a unique publishing adventure that will culminate in the publication of their very own field guides of Central Pennsylvania insects.

Each Monday, Furey takes his entomology students out to the field to photograph insects in their natural habitats. They have visited Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area, Wildwood Lake, the riverfront in downtown Harrisburg, and other locales chock full of insects.

By the end of the fall semester, each student will have photographed and identified at least 100 insects featured in individual 100-page guides to be sold on Each page will include a picture and description of an insect, along with relevant information about their habitats.

Although the field guide project originally was launched in response to COVID-19 limitations and restrictions, Furey found that students who published their creative works in a separate fiction writing class gained a sense of accomplishment that boosts morale and efforts in class.

“For my creative writing class, each student published three short stories and a screenplay. They were all very excited seeing their work online, especially when people started buying them,” Furey said. “I think they felt a deeper sense of accomplishment than they would have gotten by just turning in an assignment. This is something that will have their names on it online for a long time. That changes the game a little bit.”

Furey believes he will see the same results in his entomology class. By publishing field guides, his entomology students will not only possess a sense of accomplishment; they will have a publication with their name on it to share on graduate school and job applications, he said.  

In the past, Furey’s entomology students put together collections of mounted insects, and while students will still be introduced to lab-based techniques of collecting and mounting insects, they are now more focused on their natural habitats. 

“Going after an insect and taking a photograph without disturbing it enough for it to flee provides an intimacy with the animals and their environments,” Furey said. “Sharing images of living things in their natural states builds a different learning experience that provides students with a sense of responsibly sharing the planet.  The field guides they will have produced by the end of the semester will be lasting reminders of the complexity of life all around us and hopefully communicate that message of complexity to others.”

Follow Field Studies at Harrisburg University here.


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