Sometimes you have a year that just blows you away. For us, 2016 was that year. It was an incredible year with awesome opportunities and forward momentum.
As you read this, it may seem that I (Kristie) handle the majority of the work. This is because Jess got a full-time job back in 2015 so that I could restructure the business. We are moving away from a local workshop based biz model to a more national brand focusing on video, consulting and teacher training. It’s the only way we will be able to survive and THRIVE. We still teach children across the states, but will have more ways to reach people! Jess joins me for big brand events, but currently I handle the business, teaching, writing and partnerships. (Buy me coffee??)
Don’t worry- Jess is still a Bug Chick and my BFF! Hopefully, Jess can come back to full-time soon. I started this business (Solpugid Productions which grew into The Bug Chicks) back in 2004 and Jess and I started working together in 2008. But it wasn’t until 2011 that we based our full-time business on in-class workshops. We learned so much after teaching over 100,000 people! But we have been operating on a shoestring and we realized it wasn’t sustainable. 2014-2015 was a time of serious growing pains and reflection on my part. I’ve invested my money, time, experience, voice and intellectual property into this business for the last 12 years and was feeling stifled and stuck. Jess has sacrificed a lot too (like higher paying jobs!) We needed to see where all of this personal investment could go and how our little brand could benefit the two of us moving forward. At the end of 2015 both Jess and I were unsure if TBC would live to see another day. Thankfully…
Wow, did 2016 deliver!!!
Want a highlight reel? Buckle up:
The year started off with a BANG from our Microsoft Commercial. People who talk about overnight success are insane. This 30 second clip is the culmination of a whole lot of hard work, fun, tears and sisterhood from the past 13 years. And it will be a springboard for continued success.
While in LA for the filming, we consulted a wise man about our fortunes for the coming year. He told us it was gonna be wild ride.
So many people saw our commercial and we were inundated with comments, emails and phones calls. There were book publishers and production companies galore and we had to quickly get our heads on straight. (more on that soon)
From there we were invited to teach at YouTube Headquarters:
I created and taught professional development workshops for teachers at the National Science Teachers Association for our awesome partnership with Celestron.
We were honored to give the Keynote address at the National Ag in the Classroom annual conference and I trained even more teachers on how they can bring bugs into the classroom for engagement and enrichment.
I represented us at the International Congress of Entomology where we were invited to speak in an outreach symposium called “Swarms without Borders.” I gave a talk about using bugs to teach about prejudice and racism. If it moves you, please share it. It is the work I am most passionate about. I tell a story about my first bug workshop I ever taught, back in 2004 and how what I learned from a child helped to create the teaching strategy we use today in all of our workshops.
While at ICE I taught 3000 students and teachers in 4 hours at the Insect Expo in Orlando! Whew!
We taught at GeekGirl Con in Seattle and had the incredible privilege of teaching in the DIY Science zone. So many Sci Girls!!! The first picture below is the woman that WE fangirl over, our friend Gwen Pearson. She is the Queen Bee of insect outreach.
We were the holiday Guest Stars at Bioquip’s Annual Holiday Open House (which is basically like EntoMecca). This company creates the insect display boxes that museums around the world use. They make nets and collecting equipment and are all around great people. We are embarking on a fun partnership with them in 2017.
In addition to these huge milestones and events, our local workshops reached thousands of students in Oregon and inspired the next generation of bugdorks.
What about 2017?
2016 was AMAZING and it feels like it would be hard to top. But whenever we start thinking that way we dream bigger. 2017 is going to be SO. MUCH. FUN. A few highlights include: a trip to the Amazon rainforest to teach and working with a production company to pitch our television show to networks. I’m hoping to make some videos highlighting some of my favorite former students and I’m getting closer and closer to my new goal of training teachers in refugee camps. If you have any leads, let me know.
We couldn’t have come this far without the support of all of you out there. Thank you for bringing your kids to see us, for writing to us and posting pictures and asking questions. Jess and I are humbled by the letters we receive from kids and parents alike who tell us tales of bugdorkitude and thank us for our work.
What would you like to see from us in 2017?