This year I’ve had the great pleasure to be a teaching assistant for the general ecology class here at the University of Tennessee. The students are mostly juniors and seniors and are enthusiastic about the subject, which makes any teaching fun. It’s also fun that much of the lab work is outside in nature. Students learn how to take sample measurements of plants in quadrats, examine aquatic insect biodiversity, and even run population models of endangered animals to identify the best management strategy. Over the last half of the semester, students design and complete their own ecology project. It’s so rewarding to see their clever ideas and fresh excitement about answering questions in ecology. Many of their projects are based in local wilderness areas such as Ijams and involve questions relating to urban ecology. Since my master’s thesis involved much of that literature, it’s great to be able to help guide them to topics such as biodiversity of beetles in urban forests, where they can get a sense of how their local woods compare to other urban sites around the world.