Museum Musings

Volunteer of the Month: September

Sept -2014-VOTMWe are pleased to honor Renee McConnell as our September Volunteer of the Month.

While Renee has only been volunteering with the Museum for about 18 months, her Fernbank story starts nearly twenty years ago. She first came to the Museum as part of her son's field trip and the impact of that first visit has remained with her. After her son left for college, Renee returned to the Museum as one of our valued Polaris members, assisting as an IMAX® attendant and special events volunteer.

She loves volunteering, and appreciates opportunity it gives to expand her knowledge and to experience both the wonders of nature and the intricacies of different cultures. Her favorite moment at the Museum comes from this year's Reptile Day. She was able to overcome her fear of snakes by observing them closely and asking questions of the exhibitors. "I am very proud that I pushed past my fear to create a long lasting memory," she said.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at Fernbank Museum. You can also call us at 404.929.6360 or e-mail

See photos from Reptile Day 2014.

Written by Fernbank Museum at 16:27

A Nature Invasion

Meg -and -ivy -pile

EEEK! You've most definitely seen them and they are probably in your own front yard: invasive plants! You know, English ivy, monkey grass, privet, etc. Now raise your hand if you think removing invasive plant species is one of the most important things you can do to help protect our environment. If not, that's okay, bear with me. If you did pat yourself on the back.

I have had the opportunity to work in Fernbank Forest and the Forest Overlook to take the next step toward earning my Girl Scout Gold Award. This is the highest award that can be earned and is equivalent to the Eagle Scout Award earned by Boy Scouts. The first step of my project was simply to help remove invasive plant species, which ended up being mostly monkey grass. I had no idea that one species could be so stubborn. I learned that if you don't remove ALL the roots, your work will have been for naught. I found myself spotting and identifying invasive species on my drive home. It was then that I began realizing what a pervasive problem these plants truly are.

Here's your crash course in invasive plant species. They don't start out as invasive species. They are introduced from other areas, either to serve a purpose, because they look pretty (which really happens), or by accident. They are removed from an environment where they have natural control factors and are introduced to a new habitat where there are none. Thus, given the proper conditions, they spread like wildfire, resulting in our fields of English ivy, kudzu, monkey grass, and wisteria.

So what? Why is this such a big deal? Well these kinds of plants outcompete other plants, reducing biodiversity and threatening unique native species. Also, once they push out the native species, the animals that ate those plants either move away from the area in search of food, or cannot survive. The introduction of an invasive plant species completely disrupts the balance of an ecosystem.

So what to do? Use pesticides or other chemicals to kill the plant? Preferably not. The most eco-friendly way, and the way I've removed these buggers, is the old fashioned dig-and-pull method. It may sound like yard work, but it's actually very satisfying. Not to mention the fact that you're making a meaningful impact on your local community. It takes sweat and determination, but something as little as removing that patch of ivy in your front yard could make a big difference well beyond your immediate environment.

These plants don't spread strictly by growing. Their seeds are eager to travel and animals pick them up on their fur or eat them as their travel agents, depositing the seeds into another area and giving the plant a new opportunity to invade. These invasive plants may be directly deposited in an area as well as introduced by animals and other factors, placing the special trees and plants that make up our natural landscape at risk. That's why, just by making our own yards native, we can help protect the amazing ecosystems that surround us.

Meg _FF_summer -camp

I am currently working through the next phase of my project and am excited to develop an activity for our Discovery Carts about forest ecology, getting me a step closer to earning the Gold Award and a great experience educating others. If you have a passion for restoration and natural areas, I encourage you become a Restoration Volunteer at Fernbank. Learn more.

—Meg Withers, Environmental Education Intern

Written by Fernbank Museum at 13:52

September Becomes SHARK-tember

Sharktember _Facebook _Graphic _1After taking a big bite out of the Atlanta movie market this summer, Great White Shark is being extended through October 16. In conjunction, Fernbank Museum Shark-tember, a month-long tribute to sharks featuring hands-on activities, giveaways, admission and membership discounts, and more. It'll be a month of aahs, jaws and applause!

Shark-tember Highlights
Great White Shark
Shows daily in Fernbank's IMAX® Theatre
This giant screen adventure gets you closer than ever to the "king of the ocean" and tells the true story of the predator we love to fear.

Shark Corner
Saturdays, September 6 – September 20, from 11am – 3pm*
Join us in the Naturalist Center for a variety of shark-themed, hands-on learning fun.

Shark Tooth Sundays
Every Sunday, September 7 – September 28
The first 200 children at the Museum will receive a free shark tooth.

Tadpole Tales
Saturday, September 20 at 11:30am and Sunday, September 21 at 1:30pm
Preschoolers will enjoy a story with a Fernbank educator along with a special activity or song. September's story is Never Take a Shark to the Dentist (and Other Things Not to Do) by Judi Barrett.  

Discovery Carts
Dates and times vary
FUN youth volunteers will educate guests on a variety of ocean- and fossil-themed topics through hands-on demonstrations and real specimens.

Sharks After Dark
Take advantage of evening show times of Great White Shark during Martinis & IMAX®. Be sure to try the cocktail of the month: Shark Bite, made with vodka, coconut rum, pineapple juice, and cranberry.

Social Sharks
Swim along on social media for cool shark facts, funny (or should I say punny) shark jokes, giveaways and more. Follow our blog and check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Feeding Frenzy Deals
Take advantage of special savings all month long. Present this coupon to save $4 off Value Passes (includes Museum and IMAX® admission), $10 off Family Dual and Family Advantage Memberships or $20 off IMAX® Advantage Memberships. Must print and present coupon at Fernbank's Box Office to receive discount. Some restrictions apply.

*Shark Corner will not be offered on Saturday, September 27 due to the Goose Bumps! Opening Day Celebration.

Written by Fernbank Museum at 15:10

A DINO-Mite Celebration

They may be over 90 million years old, but age hasn’t diminished the need to host a birthday party for the dinosaur stars of Fernbank Museum’s permanent exhibition Giants of the Mesozoic. The world’s largest dinosaurs will celebrate their seventh anniversary at Fernbank with the popular Dinosaur Birthday Bash on Saturday, August 23, 2008 from 10am to 2pm.

Giggy Therm

This prehistoric party will feature a mock dino dig, appearances by Giggy A. Dinosaur, big bubble fun, free treats* from Whole Foods Market Briarcliff, a kids' DJ and more.

Can’t wait until it’s party time? Here’s a fun craft you can make at home, a Giggy Thaumatrope!

We’ll see you Saturday!

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing

*Treats are available while supplies last and are limited to 1 per person.


Written by Fernbank Museum at 09:57

August is DINO-Mite

An Entire Month Dedicated to our Prehistoric Pals

dino-skull-dino-month.jpgAlthough they perished more than 65 million years ago, "dinostalgia" continues to sweep America, engaging young and old alike. As a key part of the Museum's mission, themes related to paleontology can be found in much of Fernbank's programming, including the annual Dinosaur Birthday Bash, a family day honoring the anniversary of the permanent dinosaur exhibition, Giants of the Mesozoic.

But this year, instead of limiting the fun to just one day, Fernbank Museum is declaring August Dinosaur Month! You're invited to join us as we celebrate everyone's favorite prehistoric party animals with a series of DINO-mite opportunities.

Fernbank's Dinosaur Month will feature educator-led programs, hands-on fossil activities, a new dinosaur scavenger hunt, special giveaways (both on-site and via social media), and special dinosaur-features on this blog.

Giggy-Hat-Croped.jpgDinosaur Month Highlights

Weekend Wonders
Saturdays from 11am – 3pm, Sundays from noon-4pm
Discover more about dinosaurs through special activities including crafts, games and more.

Tadpole Tales
Saturday, August 16 at 11:30am and Sunday, August 17 at 1:30pm
Bring your preschoolers for an interactive reading of Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones by Byron Barton.

Dinosaur Birthday Bash
Saturday, August 23 from 10am – 2pm
Enjoy a variety of hands-on dinosaur- and birthday-themed activities including a Museum-wide "Happy Birthday" sing-along. 

Giants of the Mesozoic Anniversary
Monday, August 25 from 10am – 5pm
Join us on social media for a virtual celebration of the 13th anniversary of the grand opening of this groundbreaking exhibition, featuring the world's largest dinosaurs. Enjoy trivia, archival photos, giveaways and more on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Fossil Discovery Cart
Dates and times vary
Learn more about fossils, dinosaur and otherwise, through hands-on demonstrations and real specimens.

Dinosaurs around the Museum
Giants of the Mesozoic isn't the only place at Fernbank to encounter dinosaurs. You'll also find them in A Walk Through Time in Georgia, on the Dinosaur Plaza, on the outdoor Terrace, and in Fernbank NatureQuest. Plus, free dinosaur-related activities are available for download.

Fernbank Museum App
Be sure to download the official Fernbank Museum App (available FREE for Android and iOS) and experience a special Paleontology Interactive, which guides visitors through the museum on an exploration of dinosaurs and other fossils.

You won't want to miss any of the DINO-mite adventures heading your way. Join today and you can enjoy Dinosaur Month for free!

Written by Fernbank Museum at 09:58
Welcome to the official blog of Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!