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February 22
Yakima's Spider Woman: YVC biology instructor to give insight into arachnid behavior

​Yakima Herald Republic


A few years ago, Meghan Fitzgerald visited a Wisconsin humane shelter looking for a cat. She adopted a tarantula instead.

Granted, the Yakima Valley College biology instructor is a spider woman from way back. She studied arachnid behavioral ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned her doctorate in zoology. Her dissertation explored and explained why some Golden Orb Weavers are cannibals.

But the fact that someone saw a tarantula in a Madison parking lot, saved it and took it to a humane society is remarkable, Fitzgerald said.

“That particular tarantula was so cool to watch. I spent a lot of time watching her stalk her prey,” she said. “They’re kind of special.”

Fitzgerald will offer insight into spider relationships and more in a presentation Wednesday. “Understanding Spider Behavior: They Aren’t All Here to Kill You” takes place at 7 p.m. in Kendall Hall Auditorium on the YVC campus.

Her talk is the latest in YVC’s Faculty Lecture Series, which began with winter quarter 2000. Political science instructor Timothy Jeske initiated the series to share faculty members’ expertise with the community through one lecture per quarter, he said in an email.

“I search out faculty to participate in the series and have always been amazed at the intellectual talent and interesting research our faculty continue to engage in even though we teach at a community college,” he said. “Faculty not only lecture on their own areas of expertise, but also on new subjects that they have decided to focus their intellectual interests.

“Many faculty have participated in the series more than once.”

Fitzgerald has spoken extensively about spiders in other communities. “It’s really low on the science” factor, she said of her presentation, and will be more about some unusual and interesting spider behaviors.

For instance, Golden Orb Weavers build webs together that can be 20 feet across and occasionally eat their neighbors, according to a news release.

“Spiders eat everything. Spiders are generalist predators,” Fitzgerald noted. “If they’re hungry, and there’s this other spider nearby, then you might as well eat your sister.”

Peacock jumping spiders “dance” to attract females, and Ogre-faced spiders catch food by throwing small lassos over their insect prey.

“I’ll talk about how spiders are useful to humans,” she said. “They reduce the number of pests. They’re good predators — they eat a lot.”

Spiders that live on the ground, the “sit-and-wait predators,” ambush or hunt their prey; while those spiders such as tarantulas may eat only once or twice a week and can go longer without eating, web weavers are eating machines. That’s partly because building and maintaining a web requires a lot of energy, so they need a lot of food. And if their web happens to catch a lot of small insects, they’ll eat them all.

“There are some cool Washington spiders,” said Fitzgerald, who has taught in YVC’s biology department since 2015. “There’s the crab spider that has the ability to change colors.”

Grass spiders, which make a big flat web with a tunnel in grass, are the most common spiders in the Yakima area.

“That’s the spider you see in your yard after dark,” she said. And that could be the same spider that shows up in your tub or sink.

They can bite, Fitzgerald said. But “unless you have a pretty serious reactivity,” there’s no danger, she added. “There are no documented cases of death by grass spiders in the U.S.”

Black widows occasionally surface in Washington, but not often. Brown recluses are only in the South, and hobo spiders aren’t as dangerous as previously believed — and are not in Yakima anyway, she said.

Fitzgerald has read a few research papers about why people are afraid of spiders. “Most things we’re afraid of, like snakes, have some innate danger,” she said.

Spiders also register on the disgust level for some people, like rats, which are perceived as dirty and carrying disease. That’s a cultural fear as well, Fitzgerald said.

Many people perceive spiders as dangerous and disgusting, she said. And some people, even some entomologists, just plain think they have too many legs.

Rick Vetter, a professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Riverside, aims to change spiders’ bad rap, Fitzgerald said. He bemoaned the persistent fear of spiders in a 2014 article, “Myth of the Brown Recluse.”

“Spiders are one group of arthropods that are very well known by the common person yet are terribly misunderstood; because of the rare occasion of a deleterious venom incident, almost all spiders are lumped into the category of ‘squish first and ask questions later,’” Vetter wrote in the article at

“One of the first steps one should take in dealing with these critters should be to identify them properly before blasting them with pesticide and/or getting hysterical,” he wrote.

Fitzgerald’s latest pet, a Chilean rose tarantula, arrived by FedEx last week from Carolina Biological Supply Company. Fitzgerald plans to let students name it.

The South American spider with rosy-colored hair on its back is “pretty young,” less than a year old, and will get bigger, Fitzgerald said. The female could live up to eight years; the overall life expectancy for males is much shorter, about a year, a result of their much riskier behavior.

Because the tarantula just arrived and seems nervous, Fitzgerald hasn’t yet handled it. The spider also recently laid an egg, which could explain its behavior.

“She’s very jumpy. I put my hand in there and she runs away,” Fitzgerald said. “She’s not going to get huge;” her body is about 7 to 8 centimeters long, and “she’ll probably get to 10” centimeters, Fitzgerald said.

“That’s the body size,” she added. “Legs are another thing. They’re hard to measure.”

The more Fitzgerald handles her new pet, the calmer it will become. But it is a laid-back spider to start, so it may not take long.

“They’re known to be the most docile of tarantulas, which is why I have her,” she added.

February 21
Yaks top Timberwolves

​Yakima Herald Republic

PENDLETON, Ore. — Modesta Britten and Maurice Hodge each scored 19 points and Yakima Valley shot 50 percent for the game Monday night in beating Blue Mountain 84-81 in NWAC East Region action.

Terrance White added 13 points for YVC (3-10 East Region, 9-16 overall), which hosts Treasure Valley on Wednesday night.

Darrien Davis had a game-high 22 points for the Timberwolves (2-11, 4-19).

YAKIMA VALLEY — Terrance White 5-11 2-2 13, Webb 3-8 2-2 9, Modesta Britten 9-17 1-2 19, Maurice Hodge 5-7 5-7 19, Hill 2-6 2-3 6, Ford 2-3 3-8 7, Carter 3-5 1-2 8, Gaitor 0-2 0-0 0, Walker 1-1 1-2 3, Rivers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-60 17-28 84.

BLUE MOUNTAIN — Landeros 1-8 4-5 7, Bravo 4-5 0-1 9, Cook 0-2 0-0 0, Hawkins 0-4 1-1 1, Jared Mathews 6-15 7-10 19, Isaiah Harris 3-3 4-4 10, Darien Davis 5-12 10-10 22, Logan 0-7 3-4 3, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Wyant 0-0 1-2 1, McAllister 0-0 0-0 0, Kasiorek 3-4 3-4 9. Totals 22-60 33-41 81.

Halftime — YVC 40, Blue Mountain 34. 3-point goals — YVC 7-19 (White 1-3, Webb 1-5, Britten 0-2, Hodge 4-6, Carter 1-2, Gaitor 0-1), Blue Mountain 4-20 (Landeros 1-6, Bravo 1-2, Cook 0-1, Hawkins 0-3, Davis 2-6, Logan 0-2). Fouled out — White, Britten, Hodge. Rebounds — YVC 32 (Britten 5, Carter 5), Blue Mountain 47 (Mathews 19). Assists — YVC 20 (Hill 6), Blue Mountain 15 (Landeros 4). Total fouls — YVC 29, Blue Mountain 20. Turnovers — YVC 15, Blue Mountain 17.​

February 21
Yakima Valley basketball teams post sweep at Blue Mountain

​Yakima Herald Republic


PENDLETON, Ore. — Sammi Blodgett scored a game-high 24 points and Sequoia Swan had 21, and Yakima Valley held on for an 80-79 victory Monday night in NWAC East Region action.

The Yaks improved to 6-7 in conference play and 15-10 overall. With three conference games remaining, they sit in fifth place in the East Region, a game behind Treasure Valley (7-6, 15-9), which visits Sherar Gym on Wednesday night.

The top four teams in each region advance to the NWAC tournament.

Carly Davis posted a double-double for YVC with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Alexis Perez added 15 points.

Blue Mountain (1-12, 3-17) was led by Akira McGee’s 18 points. Eisenhower graduate Sydney Wammock added nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

YAKIMA VALLEY — Garcia 0-4 2-2 2, Carly Davis 6-15 0-0 14, Monson 0-0 0-0 0, Alexis Perez 4-12 7-8 15, Mills 1-2 0-2 2, Swan-Tsoodle 0-0 0-0 0, Sequoia Swan 7-19 2-5 21, Sammi Blodgett 8-18, 8-12 24, Biermann 0-0 0-0 0, Eke 0-2 2-4 2. Totals 26-72 21-33 80.

BLUE MOUNTAIN — Akira McGee 7-12 4-11 18, Ramsey 3-10 0-0 8, Micah Bisbee 4-14 0-0 11, Wammock 4-6 1-2 9, Slater 1-2 0-0 2, Brook Haringa 6-12 2-2 17, Schmeckpeper 2-5 0-0 4, Boyer 0-1 0-0 0, Kimberly Munoz 4-6 0-2 10. Totals 31-68 7-17 79.

Yakima Valley 13 17 23 27 — 80

Blue Mountain 19 13 19 28 — 79

3-point goals — YVC 7-24 (Garcia 0-3, Davis 2-2, Perz 0-2, Swan 5-13, Blodgett 0-3, Eke 0-1), Blue Mountain 10-28 (Ramsey 2-8, Bisbee 3-10, Haringa 3-6, Schmeckpeper 0-1, Munoz 2-3). Fouled out — Swan, Wammock. Rebounds — YVC 42 (Davis 14), Blue Mountain 51 (Wammock 10). Assists — YVC 16 (Blodgett 5), Blue Mountain 25 (McGee 6, Bisbee 6). Total fouls — YVC 20, Blue Mountain 28. Turnovers — YVC 9, Blue Mountain 18.​

February 16
Poetry Slam date set

​Daily Sun News

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February 16
National photo exhibit to open

​Daily Sun News


February 15
Yakama Nation ecologist to speak in YVC Biology Lecture Series

​Yakama Nation Review

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February 15
Yakima Valley College Dental Hygiene Program Looking for Patients

​Grandview Herald

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February 15
'Teach and taste' event planned

​Daily Sun News


February 15
Single mom, family displaced from house fire getting help from YVC


YAKIMA, Wash.--A family that's been displaced by a house fire from Friday is getting help from Yakima Valley College (YVC).

The home of Marivy Vasquez and her four children caught fire late Friday night.

Everyone was able to escape, but a majority of the house is destroyed.

Vasquez, who works at YVC, says her co-workers are raising money to help them get back on their feet.

"We're grateful. We're not alone, we know that a lot of people care about us. Especially my co-workers, [I'm] thankful for the family that I have at YVC,” Vasquez said.

If you'd like to donate to the family a GoFundme page has been set up. Click here to be directed to that page.

Investigators are still working to determine what started the fire.​

February 15
Walla Walla downs Yaks

​Yakima Herald Republic

WALLA WALLA — On paper, at least, Yakima Valley’s men’s game with Walla Walla on Wednesday was a matter of simple math.

The Yaks made as many field goals as WWCC, and even outrebounded the Warriors.

But the NWAC fifth-ranked Warriors made 10 more 3-pointers en route to a 77-65 East Region victory.

The loss was YVC’s seventh straight, dropping the Yaks to 2-8 in the East and 8-16 overall. Walla Walla improved to 9-3 and 18-6.

Justin Hill scored 20 points for YVC, Modesta Britten had 14 and Jalil Walker led the Yaks’ 45-39 advantage on the glass with 11.

But while Yakima Valley was 3 of 10 from 3-point range, WWCC was 13 for 37 and saw all five of its starters score in double figures.

Gabe Porter led the Warriors with 22 points while Landon Radliff 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

YVC travels to Blue Mountain on Monday before hosting Treasure Valley next Wednesday night.

YAKIMA VALLEY — White 2-7 0-0 5, Webb 2-10 0-0 5, Modesta Britten 6-12 2-2 14, Justin Hill 7-13 6-8 20, Walker 3-7 0-0 7, Hodge 2-3 1-1 5, Ford 1-4 1-2 3, Carter 1-2 0-0 2, Gaitor 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 26-63 10-13 65.

WALLA WALLA — Landon Radliff 4-10 4-5 14, Dalton Thompson 3-11 5-6 13, Caulin Bakalarski 6-22 0-0 15, Gabe Porter 8-16 0-0 22, Beau Tilleman 4-8 3-5 11, Tiller 0-0 0-0 0, Engstrom 0-0 0-0 0, Walser 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-63 10-13 65.

Halftime — WWCC 34-29. 3-point goals — YVC 3-10 (White 1-2, Webb 1-4, Britten 0-1, Hodge 0-1, Gaitor 0-1, Walker 1-1); WWCC 13-37 (Radliff 2-4, Thompson 2-8, Bakalarski 3-12, Porter 6-13). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — YVC 45 (Walker 11); WWCC 39 (Radliff 7, Bakalarski 7). Assists — YVC 10 (Webb 3, Hill 3); WWCC 17 (Radliff 5). Turnovers — YVC 18, WWCC 11. Total fouls — YVC 16, WWCC 11.​

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