Wednesday, March 30, 2016

When life gives you lemons, pick bugs.

“Sit back, relax, put on your favorite tunes, and pick.”
                On my first day volunteering in the Cross Lab, I saw this line from the bug picking protocol. Little did I know that I would take these words literally as I encountered the most challenging semester of my college experience. After making the decision to quit running for the MSU Track & Field team for the sake of my education, I bugged Wyatt about letting me into his lab so I could take advantage of all my newly acquired free time. Luckily, Kate needed someone to help speed up the process of ashing filters and entering data, so I gladly volunteered my time during the fall semester. Eventually I gained her trust, and when the filters ran out, Kate offered me the opportunity to continue my lab work in the form of bug picking, and I accepted. Turns out, this was the worst decision of my life.

                Totally kidding! Bug picking can be tedious . . . all right, bug picking IS tedious! Always. But along with a break from the never-ending schoolwork, picking offers a chance to slow down and sort out the racing thoughts of everyday life.
Here we have Kinzie diligently picking…and picking…and picking…
A certain sense of wonder follows the shift from looking at the Bridger Mountains to looking through a microscope at these little guys.
“Mite I ask you a question? How did I get here?”

The good company of the lab (bugs and people alike) kept me coming back, even though the training sessions took a toll on my untrained eyes and the delicate ostracods tested my patience. Working in the lab offers a chance to contribute to the ever expanding world of freshwater ecology, a gentle reminder that the balancing act of student life is worth the work it requires. With a summer in Iceland to look forward to and plenty of work to keep myself busy, I’m reassured that the decisions I’ve made have landed me right where I wanted. 
And of course, in the Cross Lab, safety is #1.

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