Featured Video Play Icon

Cathy Schwemm

Cathy Schwemm

Download Bookmark

Ecologist, national park enthusiast, bug collector

Current job: Ecologist for the Institute for Wildlife Studies

What experiences when you were young led to your job?

My biology teacher was a woman in her 50s. When she was a girl, she wanted to be a doctor. Her father said no, women don’t become doctors. So she became a biology teacher.

In her class there were very certain ways things were done. The one I really remember was a bug collection we had to do. We had to go out and collect 30 different orders of insects. Not only did we have to collect them, but we had to pin them correctly through the right side of thorax. We had to make little tiny labels and write really small and pin them just exactly right.

I loved it. I don’t know why. But something about there’s a certain way to do this. There’s a certain order. I had to do it just right. I got into that. It made perfect sense. I wanted to do this and I wanted to do it right and I wanted to learn more about the bugs.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Neither of my parents were scientists. So I was sort of on my own path at that point. Having supportive teachers made a lot of difference. And they loved it. They want to help.

Adults want to help. No question. So talk to people. Get help. Get mentors. Get advice. Don’t feel like you’re taking up their time. That’s what they’re there for. You have to do it. Just go. Get your courage up and go.