The diversity of microorganisms inhabiting commonplace environments is phenomenal, yet students are not often given the opportunity to explore this diversity in traditional labs. Having students build a microbe collection enables them to appreciate diversity by isolating taxa from their surroundings. At the beginning of the semester students receive a diversity workbook, which provides background and methods (e.g., construction of Winogradsky column, bait traps, selective (enrichment) media). Working independently or in small groups, students collect 20 microorganisms during the semester. Through their collection, students gain confidence and expertise in isolations, microscopy and other techniques, and an appreciation of microbial diversity.