Professor Heins teaching class

Chad Heins

Teaching Philosophy

I love teaching. I love learning. I love working with students.

I believe that students learn the most when they are challenged and I prefer to lead students to the answer rather than provide it directly. In today’s world of internet searches, it is easy to find an answer but more important for students to be able to develop critical thinking skills and use the answers they find to raise new questions. My approach in the classroom and laboratory stresses the inseparable ideas of form and function.

Research Interests:

Spiders of Minnesota

While doing some biological inventory work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service several years ago, I went looking for a list of spiders that can be found in Minnesota so that I knew what to search for. I discovered pretty quickly that very little was known about Minnesota’s spider fauna. While I didn’t know very much about spiders at the time, over the years I’ve managed to become a regional expert. I manage a project on iNaturalist for spiders of Minnesota and my preliminary checklist to Minnesota’s spiders is now available online. Students have helped with my research by collecting and identifying spiders as part of their coursework or independent research projects.

Bethany Hawkwatch

Bethany’s campus overlooks the beautiful Minnesota River Valley which serves as a significant migratory corridor for many bird species. Since 2004, a collection of students, faculty and community volunteers have recorded diurnal raptor movement through Mankato. That makes the Bethany Hawkwatch the second longest raptor monitoring project in Minnesota (only surpassed by Hawk Ridge in Duluth). It is also one of the few sites in North America that occurs along a river rather than an ocean, lake, or mountain range which makes for some interesting data. More information about our site can be found on Hawkcount. All our data are submitted to this site to help track raptor populations across North America.


I’ve been teaching at Bethany since January of 2000. My wife is a part-time librarian and we have four children under the age of 17. When I’m not teaching, I spend my time birding, collecting spiders, exploring wild places, taking pictures and reading history books.