If Jennifer Chen had to write an essay on "How I Spent My Summer Vacation," it would be titled "Climate Change and Caterpillars."

The third-grade teacher in West Covina literally spent 11 days studying our fuzzy little friends in Arizona. It was all part of a fellowship that the Telesis Academy instructor got from the Durfee Foundation.

"I applied for the Earthwatch Educator's Fellowship, because I wanted to understand scientific research done on a professional level," Chen explained.

So the Rowland Unified teacher volunteered to work on a scientific expedition with Earthwatch. Chen joined seven other educators from Los Angeles to study caterpillars in the Coronado National Forest.

They worked with

Third grade teacher Jennifer Chen collects caterpillars. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Chen)
Professor Lee Dyer from the University of Nevada at Reno. Dyer is studying the effect that climate change is having on caterpillars.

On his website, Dyer notes that he is studying global change, including climate change, loss of biodiversity, increases in invasive species and habitat loss.

It seems that caterpillars count, so the L.A. teachers spent their time counting caterpillars in the Arizona desert. While Chen wasn't beating the bushes, she was "beating" the trees to knock the caterpillars into waiting nets.

"We would place our nets underneath the trees, then hit the trees until the caterpillars dropped," the Telesis teacher said.Click HERE for entire story!