Joe K

Joined: May 01, 2018 Last Active: Aug 08, 2020

Born in St. Louis, Missouri but exposed to the wilderness in Osage County, Missouri.
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While I attended school at the University of Missouri for a bachelor's in biology, I joined an ecological entomology lab where I began my studies of predator-prey relationships between various insects. During this time I learned to efficiently rear and care for insect populations such as native, endangered, and introduced lady beetle species, multiple agriculturally significant aphid and Lepidopteran species, beneficial parasitoid wasps of these larvae, spined soldier bugs of the family Pentatomidae, and host plants to provide them with food and habitat. I also assisted with two other projects focused on (1) the benefits of soil fungi to control ground-dwelling larval pests and (2) the mutualistic relationship between arbuscular mycorrhizae and the roots of Little Bluestem Grass (Schizachyrium scoparium).

Around this same time, and much influenced by my research, I began to appreciate native plants through close observation paired with botany courses. I loved it so much that I continued my academic career at Kansas State University to earn a Master of Science degree in Entomology where I spent 3 years exploring the vastness of the state, from the ~tallgrass prairie~ in the East to the ~sandsage/shrotgrass prairie~ in the West. My thesis focused on the influences that drought-stress can have on plant development, inhabiting arthropod populations of these plants, and the mulit-faceted interactions between drought-stressed plants and arthropods. In addition to my graduate research project, I worked as a Field Biologist for Kansas State's extension services in Garden City, KS. Consulting local farmers with their agronomic challenges, performing educational events, surveying wild pollinators, and leading volunteers through grant-funded projects were all apart of my professional duties.

Today I use my past experiences and inspirations to build native gardens and assist others with their ecological landscape designs. I'm constantly exploring new clades of plants, insects, and wildlife as they capture my attention by finding them in the wild and growing/attracting them to my backyard.

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