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Convener Corner: Meet Jim Murowchick!

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Jim Murowchick


For the last 24 years, Jim Murowchick has been collecting and photographing butterflies and moths. Now, for the first time, he has decided to share his experiences with us as a Communiversity convener.

“I’ve been interested in butterflies and moths since I was a kid,” Murowchick said. “And after collecting specimens for years, I’ve shifted to photography [because] specimen collections take up space and take some effort to properly maintain and preserve.”

Murowchick added that, thanks to digital photography, photos are inexpensive now and can be shared instantly with his colleagues around the world. He wants to share his skills with others because of the information we can obtain from them.

“Insects are excellent indicators of the health of the environment,” Murowchick said. “Long-term observations by amateurs can help chart environmental changes.”

Abundance and distribution of species and other environmental changes can result from factors such as urban sprawl, pesticides, weather, parasites, and diseases. Murowchick pointed out that moths are often overlooked because tend to be active at night, and he hopes to change the perception that they are nothing more than “small, brown, boring bugs”.

“There’s a wealth of beautiful colors, patterns, shapes, postures, and behaviors we can find in months, and appreciation of that diversity is satisfying,” Murowchick said. “Also, there are far more species of moths than butterflies, and there is the potential of even an amateur discovering a new species, even in the Kansas City area.”

Eager to teach his class, “Blacklights and Baits: The Lure of Moth Photography,” this fall, Murowchick anticipates sharing an activity that he has enjoyed so much. The class takes place on Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. in Room 427 of Flarsheim Hall on the UMKC campus. It consists of a short introduction, followed by an outdoor photography session.

“My wife said I got more excited about finding a colony of endangered Atala butterflies in the Everglades than I was when our first child was born,” Murowchick said. “I don’t think I was quite that bad, but close!”

“Keep learning in every area that you can—not just in your profession. It’s often the hobbies and peripheral knowledge that can make life interesting.”

To take Murowchick’s, search Communiversity’s database by “Course Number” and type in “1501A”.

By Jessica Turner and Jim Murowchick


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