Volunteering with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Maryland Dept of Natural Resources
  DNR Home

DNR Shines a Spotlight on Natural Heritage Program Volunteers

Natural Heritage Program Volunteer - Sarah Majerowicz - doing field work

Report from Paula Becker
Natural Heritage Program
Wildlife and Heritage Service
Volunteer Coordinator

Classes, homework, a part-time job as a waitress and carry-out person, these are all typical components of a high school senior's life. Sarah Majerowicz added one more: volunteering.

For almost a year, Sarah donated her time to the Wildlife and Heritage Service's Natural Heritage Program, working with Invertebrate Ecologist Jennifer Frye. Devoting one afternoon a week during school and a full day a week during the summer break, Sarah revamped the 25-year-old insect collection, sorting through thousands of insects, culling the broken, damaged or unlabeled specimens.

She ordered the remaining collection by taxonomic family, re-labeling those specimens that needed it and making available many individuals for donation to other collections, like the Smithsonian's. Plus, a large majority of the specimens are now entered into a master database, thanks to her dedication.

With the master collection in order, Sarah set to work on new collections from current field research on native bees and ants of Pleistocene dunes of the Lower Eastern Shore.

Since bees are collected using a wet medium, which mats their diagnostic abdominal hairs, they must first be dried using, yes, a hair dryer, before they can be accurately identified. Sarah spent hours blow drying bees.

When that was done, she pinned and labeled the bees and ants (which are very fragile and take some skill to prepare). She also began learning how to identify many of the bees using an online dichotomous key. Sara also entered information on this new collection into the database.

In addition to her lab work, Sarah also assisted with field work, studying those same bees and ants as well as butterflies. Her work was interspersed with vigorous conversations with Wildlife and Heritage staff on current wildlife management issues, which come in handy now that she is enrolled at the University of Rhode Island. She's majoring in wildlife management. We hear she got an "A" on her mute swan presentation.

Sarah hopes to return to MD DNR on her summer break.

Learn More About the Natural Heritage Program
Learn more about volunteering with the Natural Heritage Program

DNR Volunteer Spotlight Archives