Geoff Johnson
Session 2005-022



Name Geoff Johnson
Web site http://www.yksd.com
Location Huslia, Alaska, USA
Community Rural
Type Public


Subjects math - science
Grades 6-8
Students 15


Title Why are insects important to us?
Insects mayfly, dragonfly, stonefly, mosquito, gnat, blow fly, lampreys,
Description I am investigating Bugscope for two possible projects. One would be through Jimmy Huntington School in Huslia where I teach middle and high students as described above. The other is through the Tanana Conservation Outreach Program which I am currently running at a subsistence fishcamp forty miles upriver from Tanana on the Yukon River. (I have recently contacted Umesh Thakkar and Scott Robinson about the possibility of sending Ichthyophonus samples.) The science camp is currently running at the Rampart Rapids and involves four students each week who travel by boat from Tanana and stay in tent cabins for five days before returning downriver. The majority of participants in this program are Koyukukon Athabascan from the town of Tanana. The camp this year will run until August 5th. While the camp's main purpose is to collect data on Chinook and chum salmon a regular activity is to go to several creeks in the area and search for aquatic insects. Specimens we've found, that we would be interested in sending to Bugscope, include mayflies, stoneflies, and some worms. One of the creeks that we visit is has a chum salmon run. My goal has been to help students understand the factors which determine a healthy stream for spawning salmon. What insects do you look for in a healthy stream and what should be the values for pH, dissolved oxygen, etc? We are also hoping to do an egg take in the stream in order to raise salmon in the classroom. In addition, the salmon and whitefish that come out of the camp's fishwheel often have signs of lampreys that have been attached. Sometimes we are able to recover these lampreys. And while this is not an insect I was hoping to see if this could possibly be a specimen for Bugscope? I return to Huslia(on the Koyukuk River) by boat in early August and will again be hoping to do a salmon egg take at Wheeler Creek - a tributary of a tributary of the Koyukuk River. This creek is approximately 70 miles from Hulsia by boat. Students in Huslia(also Koyukukon Athabascan) do not often have an opportunity to study aquatic insects from creeks due to the fact that Koyukuk River valley surrounding Huslia is a flood plain with about a forty mile radius. No creeks are near town, only sloughs, lakes and rivers. Soil is mostly silt and sand - rocks are hard to find. And once winter sets in bugs become even harder to locate. Being able to view aquatic insects through your program would, I believe, be a great addition to their experience of collecting them. Also, those bugs found around town(mosquitoes, gnats, and blow flies) are often looked at as pests rather than a necessary part of the ecosystem. Helping students to see the benefits of these organisms is major goal for me as a teacher this year.


Where did you hear
about Bugscope?
through a colleague