Edith Marion Patch-Naturalist, Entomologist, Writer
Do you like to explore the outdoors? Are you fascinated by insects and bugs? Do you find caterpillars and raise them, watching with amazement as they transform into beautiful butterflies? Do you turn over rocks, looking for sow bugs underneath?
Then, maybe you could grow up to become an entomologist like Edith Marion Patch. An entomologist is a scientist that studies insects. The word entomology comes from the Greek word “entomon” which means insect and “-logia” which means the study of. Edith Patch was the first successful woman entomologist in the United States. This was not an easy accomplishment because Edith Patch was born in the late 1800’s when women were not encouraged to become scientists. Did she let this stop her from pursuing her passion for insects and nature? Not in the least.
From the time she was young, Edith loved to spend time exploring the meadows around her home. When she was a senior in high school, the knowledge she gained from her explorations and passion for insects led her to write an essay about the monarch butterfly for a contest. She won! She spent the $25 prize money on a handbook of insect study by John Henry and Anna Comstock, entomologists at Cornell University. She couldn’t see into the future to know that years later, she would study and work with them herself!
Edith attended the University of Maine and got her degree in science in 1901. She couldn’t find a job in science so she got a job teaching English because writing was another passion of hers. Did she give up on her dream of being an entomologist? Not at all.
In 1903 Dr. Charles Wood at the University of Maine asked her to come and organize an entomology department there. She did, overcoming many obstacles in her way as a woman in science.
Edith Patch not only became an entomologist but she became the world’s expert on aphids, a well-respected naturalist and a writer of many children’s books about nature.
The life and career of Edith Patch teaches us many things-the importance of finding something in life that excites and interests you, the ability to stay strong in your conviction to become what you want to despite difficulties along the way, and the importance of appreciating and understanding the natural world around us.
You can read all this information and more about Edith Marion Patch at the following websites:
Here’s some things to think about.
What questions do you have about the natural world that you would like to investigate?
Imagine yourself becoming a scientist like Edith Patch. What field of science interests you?
Can you name some other women environmental science pioneers? What do their life stories have in common with Edith Patch?
Have a great day!