2019 Workshop | The Buzz On Bugs: Lecture & Film Screening

Virginia Working Landscapes hosted the free event, “The Buzz on Bugs,” at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute on June 13, 2019. We were proud to host emerging scientist, Dr. Ashley Kennedy (co-creator of the crowd-sourced project “What Do Birds Eat?” and protégé of the renowned authorDoug Tallamy) as she discussed the findings of her work studying bird diets. Afterwards, we screened the humorous and poignant documentary short “The Love Bugs” by filmmakers Allison Otto and Maria Clinton. This 30-minute film explored in touching detail a couple’s devotion to insects, science, and each other as they prepared to donate their life’s work (the largest private collection of insect specimens) to a museum.

We also enlisted the help of partners like The Clifton Institute and Virginia Master Naturalists to bring additional educational and display materials to drive home the message that insects are amazing creatures that we depend on for a variety of important services. After all, arthropods pollinate almost two-thirds of all flowering plants, decompose leaf litter and wood debris to form humus, and underpin complex food webs in almost every region they inhabit. Recently, Virginia Working Landscapes undertook a pilot survey to begin a new research program to study these charismatic little critters, which has already generated some “buzz” online. The purpose of this event was to share more stories about the world of insect research and foster discussions about the many ways they contribute to our lives.

Click here to read a summary of the lecture portion of the event and learn more about how you can help birds and bugs at the same time.


Ashley Kennedy is a Science Policy Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, a board-certified medical entomologist, and a member of the Delaware Native Species Commission. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2009; between her undergraduate and graduate studies, she completed internships at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, the National Zoo, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Her master’s project at the University of Delaware focused on planthopper taxonomy, describing several new species and genera in the process. She recently received her PhD in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware in Doug Tallamy’s lab.

Allison Otto is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, cinematographer, visual journalist, a two-time Telluride Mountain film Commitment Grant recipient, and a 2018 co-recipient of the Roy W Dean From The Heart grant. Her clients have included National Geographic, the BBC, CNN, and Lonely Planet. Allison graduated from Stanford with a bachelor’s in Communications and master’s in Sociology.

Maria Clinton is a filmmaker, photographer, and an adjunct film professor based in New York. Maria is a 2018 Telluride Mountain film Commitment Grant recipient and a 2018 co-recipient of the Roy W Dean From The Heart grant. Her clients have included NBC, CNN’s Great Big Story, About.com and nonprofit organizations. As a filmmaker, her work focuses on sharing untold stories from underrepresented, shattering stereotypes, and reconstructing the narratives.