Hands-on learning and research are so important to students at Fort Lewis College, and those opportunities wouldn’t happen as well as they do without Biology Lab Coordinator Kami Parrish-Larson. She does everything from prepping freshman labs to helping senior seminar students find and use lab and field equipment. It’s a ton of work, but it’s something Ms. Parrish-Larson particularly enjoys.
“I love all the equipment. I love playing with all the toys,” the winner of the 2014-15 Fort Lewis College Outstanding Staff Award says. “I like all of that stuff; I really do. I’m just a complete geek in that way.”
Science has long been a passion for her. She graduated from Fort Lewis College with a degree in cellular & molecular biology and worked for an insectary here in Durango for a time. It was an opportunity afforded to her by the education she received at FLC.
“I’m really fortunate to say that I’ve been able to utilize my science degree in Durango for pretty much my whole time here,” she says.
The job at the insectary also allowed her to enjoy another one of her loves: animals. That love extends to animals many might think are unlovable, like cockroaches, an insect that she describes as “cute.”
When the opportunity arose to become a lab coordinator at Fort Lewis College, Ms. Parrish-Larson jumped at the chance. Now she gets to oversee the Biology Department’s lab equipment, the greenhouse, and the animal room, which is home to a wide variety of species including snakes, mice, and, of course, cockroaches.
As a FLC science alumna, she knows the value of offering the best possible research and hands-on learning opportunities to students. The fact that she contributes to those opportunities only adds to her enjoyment of what she does.
“I know that grad schools, when they look at the senior projects that our students are able to do, they say, ‘you’re kidding, you did this as an undergrad?’” she remarks.
Her work to help FLC students succeed also includes a number of work-study students she supervises. Her students help her in the College greenhouse and animal room, gaining valuable hands-on experience. Plus, if they’re lucky, those students might catch the enthusiasm and satisfaction that Ms. Parrish-Larson enjoys in her work. We should all be so lucky.