Kate Kyser

Kate Kyser is a wildlife management major at Missouri Western State University (MWSU). Over the summer, she had the privilege of working as an entomological intern at the Butterfly Palace in Branson, Mo. For those unaware, entomology is defined as the scientific study of insects. 

“My job was to take care of the butterflies that they house in the aviary, which features thousands of butterflies from all different species,” Kyser said. “I participated in husbandry, which is the care and uptake of the butterflies themselves.”

Working with butterflies was only part of Kyser’s internship duties at the Butterfly Palace. 

“I did a bit of greenhouse management, pest management and took care of the plants,” Kyser said. “I worked a lot with guests. The (Butterfly Palace) sees a lot of people every day and I helped maintain USDA standards by watching the door and making sure the butterflies weren’t flying out.” 

Kyser’s fondness of the outdoors began at a young age.

“I was always a really outdoorsy kid,” Kyser said. “I spent a lot of time playing in ponds and messing with weird little critters. That’s what sparked my passion for biology in general.”

Although Kyser had always shown an interest in wildlife, she found her true niche after taking classes at Missouri Western. 

“I had the opportunity of taking entomology with Dr. Ganong and fell in love with the content,” Kyser said. “I learned it easily, enjoyed it and ultimately decided that I wanted to do something with it.”

Kyser is a member of the MWSU Wildlife Society, an organization she says has benefitted her future career immensely. 

“(The Wildlife Society) definitely opened up my range of connections,” Kyser said. “I’ve had many interactions with professionals in the field, which has made my name known and will be invaluable when it comes to applying for jobs. I feel that with all of the different activities and volunteer work I’ve done through the society, I will have made my resume stand out against other applicants.”

Throughout her summer as an intern, Kyser describes one experience as standing out above the rest. 

“The best part was the hands-on work with chrysalids, which is when a butterfly is metamorphosing from a caterpillar to a butterfly,” Kyser said. “I glued those to lids and watched them eclose, which is the process of emergence from their chrysalis. I then showed that to the guests.”

Privacy was not an option during Kyser’s internship, as she was on full display while she carried out her work. 

“I was in what they call a cleanroom, which is a controlled environment that had a window attached to the greenhouse at every side,” Kyser said. “Guests could come up to the window and watch me do my work.”

The transparent dynamic between the guests and the cleanroom made for some funny moments. 

“The windows were not soundproof at all,” Kyser said. “One time, I was putting a chrysalis up against the window for guests to watch them eclose and had a guy start singing to the butterflies. He quickly realized that I could hear him and started laughing.”

Missouri Western student Katy Stafford is a close friend of Kyser’s and shared the privilege of working as a summer intern at the Butterfly Palace. Although Stafford worked mainly within the Reptiles and Amphibians area, she was able to observe Kyser’s work ethic firsthand. 

“Her dedication to the job was awesome,” Stafford said. “There was a lot of training required and she was always willing to put in the work. Kate’s a quick learner, so she had no problems picking up on all of the techniques. She answered all of the questions that people had and went the extra mile to explain things to guests. I think that was really admirable.”

Kate Kyser will finish up her degree as a wildlife management major while continuing her involvement in The Wildlife Society. While she has no specific plans for post-graduation yet, her hard work and first hand experiences will undoubtedly set her up for success in the wildlife industry.


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