SHARE

When the summer began, senior pol­itics major Jackson Ven­trella wasn’t looking for an internship with but­ter­flies. Nev­er­theless, the oppor­tunity arose out of hap­pen­stance.

This past summer, Ven­trella landed an internship at Ento­mology Solu­tions in Louisville, Ken­tucky. A far cry from the political arena, the company he worked for partners with Idlewild But­terfly Farm, the Louisville Zoo, and other com­panies to raise but­ter­flies and conduct research on bugs and insects.

“I had just come out of the Wash­ington-Hillsdale Internship Program, so I went to Louisville and worked at an impact investing firm,” he said. “Some of the other guys at my job this summer were going to do pho­tog­raphy for Ento­mology Solu­tions, and the owner said she needed two people for the summer.”

He took advantage of the oppor­tunity and ended up working at both the investing firm and Ento­mology Solu­tions from June to August.

Though he doesn’t plan on pur­suing a career in ento­mology, Ven­trella said the expe­rience with but­ter­flies at Idlewild was valuable nonetheless.

“As a non-science major, I helped run the store,” he said. “I worked the cash reg­ister, did upkeep in the yard for the plants and the but­ter­flies, har­vested eggs, and super­vised tours.”

Blair Leano-Helvey, an ento­mol­ogist and owner of Idlewild, said the company’s interns don’t need to come with knowledge about bugs.

“Our interns learn on the job,” she said. “All they need is interest in what we do.”

On a typical tour, Ven­trella would take vis­itors to a rearing lab, where larvae are studied and col­lected, an insec­tarium, and a live but­terfly flight house.

“The monarch but­ter­flies usually attracted the most guests, in part due to it being the most well-known but­terfly,” Ven­trella said.

Vis­itors can study more than just but­ter­flies at the insec­tarium.

“Because we are USDA cer­tified, we can bring in exotic insects from all over the globe,” Leano-Helvey said. “The taran­tulas and stick bugs are a huge attraction to our vis­itors.”

Idlewild offers numerous ser­vices for its guests besides tours. The store sells but­terfly chrysalides and but­terfly attractant plants. The farm orga­nizes live but­terfly releases and but­terfly dis­plays for special events such as wed­dings and memo­rials, among other cer­e­monies.

In addition to learning about and working with ento­mology first hand, Ven­trella said the internship offered ben­e­ficial real-world expe­rience.

“You get to meet and learn about people from all sorts of dif­ferent back­grounds,” he said. “It helps you to learn new skills. I’ve never done this type of work before, so the work in general was new to me.”

Sophia Carr Donohoe ’13, an assistant director of career ser­vices, said that stu­dents who work in a field not related to their major aren’t as rare as one may think.

“It’s more common than stu­dents think to work in an industry outside of their major,” Donohoe said. “A lot of times orga­ni­za­tions have jobs available where they need an outside per­spective.”

She went on to describe how a liberal arts edu­cation is espe­cially valuable for stu­dents who may study one field and end up working in another.

“A Hillsdale edu­cation is unique because we have a lot of stu­dents that might major in history and minor in business or biology,” Donohoe said. “When you are diverse in the liberal arts and you’ve taken classes from many dif­ferent dis­ci­plines, you are going to be able to take jobs like Jackson’s.”

Besides expanding his skill set, Ven­trella said, the internship offered an aes­thetic appeal.

“One of the best things about the but­terfly farm was in the simple beauty of the crea­tures them­selves,” he said. “They’re so fragile and del­icate and each one is unique.”