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September 27, 2019

Bug’s eye view

Biology Instructor Jerry Hagler has a unique perspective of the PA campus
by Allyson Irish

Combining his love of photography and ecology, Jerry Hagler has been taking up-close-and-personal photos of the plants, flowers, bugs, and other animals on campus for the past few years in the hopes of creating a digital field guide.

Hagler posts images intermittently on Instagram and Facebook, chronicling the daily activities of campus critters like frogs, dragonflies, bees, and spiders. He’s also captured the beauty of various wildflowers, plants, and grasses.

“I’m amazed at the diversity of creatures I find when I go off on my photographing forays,” says Hagler, who has recently gotten students involved with on-campus research.

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Last spring, students in his Bio 580 class identified and cataloged lichens found on grave stones in Cochran Cemetery; another group of students characterized three clusters of pink lady-slippers, an orchid that is on the list of endangered and threatened plant species in Massachusetts.

Hagler says he enjoys getting kids out of the classroom and introducing them to field work. It requires a different, more active set of skills and is something he thinks would appeal to potential new students as well.

“I know if I were a future high school student and I saw this kind of thing on a website associated with the school, it would have been very attractive to me,” Hagler says. “I figure there are a lot of kids out there who are like I was, at that age. These kinds of projects help illustrate that there are all sorts of interesting things growing here, right outside our door.”

Hagler is not the first teacher to catalog living creatures on campus. In the 1980s, English teacher John Gould began to classify wildflowers, writing about his hobby in the Andover Bulletin.

Categories: Academics, Magazine

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