Wasps - Misunderstood Marvels

RGV BioU Mark

Instructor: Sloan Tomlinson
June 11 - 12, 2022 | $265
Course size: 12 students
Please Contact Us to request scholarship assistance


asps; misunderstood, often maligned, and commonly underestimated. These amazing insects are vastly diverse, complex in their life cycles, and vital to our ecosystems. As pollinators, predators, and parasitoids, they fill many vital –and often overlooked– roles in the biosphere. In this course we will learn how vital these insects are, and gain a greater appreciation for them through lecture and outdoor exploration at North Branch Nature Center.
We’ll cover the basics of how to recognize families of wasps, investigate their anatomy, and delve deep into fascinating and awe-inspiring life histories. Throughout the course you will learn the interconnectedness of these vital organisms in New England ecosystems and beyond. You will leave with a greater appreciation for these fascinating insects, and be able to recognize common local families and species.
Expect to walk away with intense appreciation and awe of wasps, and to leave behind any fear or distaste for these keystone insects.

Course Objectives

  • Learn to identify many of the common families and species of wasps in New England.
  • Gain a better understanding of wasps' complex ecosystem roles and symbioses.
  • Learn about the complex life cycles of wasps.
  • Spend time in the fields around NBNC identifying wasps and witnessing some of their behaviors.
  • Learn how to safely capture, handle, and photograph wasps.
  • Discover the complex relationship wasps have with humans from food to medical research.
  • Leave with a better appreciation and love for these astounding insects.

About the Instructor(s)

Sloan Tomlinson is a researcher and educator at the non-profit The Caterpillar Lab located in southern New Hampshire. He has been studying wasps since he was a small child and has developed a lifelong love of them. As a photographer he has been working to photograph as many wasp species as possible from New England in ways never done before, and has been discovering new species and behaviors. He has participated in several wasp courses as a lecturer, most recently in January 2022 through PennState. While calls himself an "autodidactic entomologist," he has worked a great deal with academics through various institutions. He has been working as a SciComm educator through various social media outlets for over ten years now, and runs the Instagram @thatwaspguy.

Recommended Reading

Wasps by Eric Eaton


We will provide coffee, tea, and light breakfast fare (pastries, etc.) each morning. Participants should bring their own lunches and snacks.


Course begins 9 AM on Saturday at North Branch Nature Center. Course begins on Sunday at a time of the instructors' choosing. Course concludes by 5 PM on Sunday.

Academic Credit / Professional Development

This course may qualify for 1 graduate-level credit for an additional $200 course fee. All BioU courses are accredited by Castleton University. Participants interested in receiving credit must contact us at least 2 months in advance so we have time to arrange course accreditation.

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that home institutions will accept the credit. Participants pursuing academic credit will be required to complete an additional assignment above and beyond the course hours, including literature review, reflective writing, or a field-based project.

This course qualifies for 20 hours of professional development hours and continuing education units. Certificates of completion are provided at the conclusion of the course.

Cancellation Policy

While we realize that unexpected circumstances arise that are out of our control, North Branch Nature Center cannot guarantee refunds for registrations cancelled within 30 days of the course.  If a cancellation occurs within this window, NBNC will attempt to fill the space from our wait list and provide a full refund. Exceptions to this policy may be granted in the event that cancellation is due to COVID-19 concerns.

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206

Hours: Center Open Monday-Friday 9-4
Trails Open 24/7