I am in my fourth week here at the American Museum of Natural History and as soon as I step off the subway, I am reminded of the importance of the work I and so many others do as conservation scientists, educators, practitioners, and the like. Here is a little overview of what I get to experience as I walk through the museum to my office.
The museum stop at 81st St. Central Park West is unlike any other subway stop you’ll encounter in NYC. The walls and floor are covered in mosaics and outlines of organisms from dinosaur bones to pelicans to monarch caterpillars and- believe it or not- to a tiger beetle! I’m still learning which subway car will drop me exactly at the tiger beetle, but this morning I was luckily to have that happen and took this picture to prove it!
Once off the subway, I go up the stairs and through the Hall of Biodiversity and am greeted with the sight of a myriad of butterflies, beetles, crustaceans, fish mammals, reptiles, birds and a giant jelly fish.
Half of the time, I take the side route so that I can go through the rainforest replica that plays videos explaining research and conservation efforts in rain forests around the world. Part of my position is to be the “science advisor” to the Bio Bulletins that are played throughout the museum. I get to help create and review content in these great, educational films. Check them out here: Bio News and Documentaries.
Once through the Hall of Biodiversity, I walk through the Hall of North American Forests and right past the Redwood exhibit. Whenever I feel a little homesick for the redwoods and Santa Cruz Mountains, I can come to this exhibit and pretend I’m there. It isn’t the same, but it is something!
Right before my office, I reach the Hall of Human Origins. Something I haven’t shared here on this blog is that my first love in science was with Archaeology- I nearly minored in it in college- and I was a little obsessed with the Leakeys growing up. Thus, it is no trivial matter that I walk by replicas of the hominid skeletal remains of both Lucy and Turkana Boy. This exhibit brings me back to my kid-like initial scientific curiosity and amazement. Also in this hall are videos of scientists explaining the importance of evolution to all of biology and life. I absolutely love watching museum patrons as they explore and learn the vital connection between themselves and the earth.
Finally, I arrive at my office in the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. Here, I work on creating, reviewing, editing, and maintaining the large collection of conservation modules of the Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners. Please check out and use our modules, they are peer-reviewed and completely open source: http://ncep.amnh.org/. There are background documents, presentations, exercises with solutions, and case studies on a myriad of conservation topics from around the world. We are working on initiating a new, more user friendly format but with the same great thorough information, so stay tuned. Speaking of, I need to get back to work!