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The BugMan Becomes a Children's Book Author
Ryan Bridge, who has amassed a collection of nearly 1 million bugs from around the world, will write a series of children's books for Wilbooks.
“It was my first bug and it couldn't bite me,” he says with a laugh.
Since then, Ryan Bridge has amassed an usually large collection of insects, from the common Black Ant he found in York, Pa. to the exotic Goliath Beetle he found in Africa, earning him the moniker “The BugMan (http://ryanthebugman.com)
Now, Bridge is adding another title to his resume: author.
A Mt. Wolf resident, Bridge recently agreed to help produce a series of books for Wilbooks (http://wilbooks.com)
“It’s way cool,” says Bridge. “I never thought I'd be writing books, let alone children’s books. It ties into everything I live for... working with kids and educating them about insects. Here I am writing starter reading books for kids about insects. How classic is that?”
Wilbooks owner Bruce Larkin (http://brucelarkin.com/
“Youngsters need to develop a love for reading at an early age,” says Larkin. “Reading opens the door to so many things. Our goal is for every child to have a book of their own.”
After finding that first cicada, Bridge made collecting, preserving, and cataloging insects his passion. He scoured the country, spending long weeks in scorching southwest deserts and chilly northwest mountains looking for the most interesting specimens.
Eventually, even after donating thousands of insects to museums such as the Smithsonian Institute and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Bridge wound up with about 120,000 bugs mounted and organized in drawers. He figures he has another 750,000 specimens awaiting disposition - either to be donated to museums, other collectors, or used in his programs and custom-built exhibits.
About 10 years ago, Bridge turned his love of bugs into a side business making presentations at schools and 4-H events. Then, in July 2011, he suffered a debilitating back injury while working as a delivery driver for FedEx.
Unable to work after undergoing multiple surgeries and painful physical therapy, Bridge decided to make his insect education presentations a full-time business.
“I had to do something,” he said. “It was a no-brainer, really. I had everything lined up... all the resources and the customer base. I just needed the freedom to pursue it.” The business officially launched in April 2013.
In just a little over a year, Bridge has morphed his avocation into his vocation, presenting programs and exhibiting is insects in day cares, schools, libraries, senior centers, birthday parties and various community events within a 150-mile radius of his home.
“Some months, I could fill every day if I wanted to,” he says. "Other months, offer no programming opportunities at all. Fortunately for now, I’m booking into next August."
The business is taking off like wildfire, he says.
“I’m one of very few people in this country who do this full-time,” says The BugMan. “Those who try are usually forced to go back to getting a regular paycheck.”
Over the next few months, Bridge will be among several Wilbooks authors who help promote National Reading Day on January 23, 2014.
“We need to do everything we can to encourage children to read,” says Bridge. “It’s the foundation on which all learning happens. I’m proud to be part of such a worthwhile national effort.’”
As for the cicada he found 35 years ago, Bridge still uses it in his presentations.
“It’s missing a wing but it’s still a good bug,” he says. “Besides, that’s where it all started.”
Page Updated Last on: Sep 22, 2013