Museum Musings

Earth Day Inspirations


Earth Day is just around the corner, offering another opportunity to teach visitors, young and old, why we love the earth, and why we should protect it. As a life science programs intern, I’ve grown slightly introspective as the date approaches. I care deeply about the planet and about the fate of its ecosystems, and Earth Day has always represented an opportunity to share that sentiment. Ashley Blog April 2015

Since I began interning at Fernbank in January, one of the main things that excites me is the Museum’s ability to draw out my own passions in the visitors. I’ve been interested in natural history since I was a small child; some of my earliest memories involve catching frogs and chasing snakes (and consequentlybeingchased when my parents realized what I was after). I grew up in the Washington D.C. area, and could be counted on to alternate between the zoo and the museum of natural history as my choices for weekend outings. Here, I love walking past the dinosaurs and through the front doors and experiencing the palpable excitement of the school groups who can’t wait to learn, even if they don’t quite know that’s what they are doing.

The message of conservation here is subtle; to me, the exhibits show what we have on earth is worth protecting, rather than simply preaching at an audience that surely has heard it all before. The exhibits excite a passion for knowledge which I developed in a similar setting. While I shadowed a live animal presentation, a little boy raised his hand and said “One day, I want to be a scientist!” I find it so heartening to know that visiting Fernbank might not be just a way to get out of class, but can truly be a formative experience for visitors.

The live animal presentations are particularly special for me; I’ve always loved reptiles and amphibians, but have always been surprised to find that not everyone shares that interest. At Fernbank, the visitors are at the edges of their seats trying to get a good look at the legless lizards or the blue tongued skink, and can hardly wait to guess why a lizard is not a snake. After the event, they race off to learn about the ecosystems of Georgia, to check out The Power of Poison exhibit and to appreciate the other animals and activities in Fernbank NatureQuest. As they do, I am confident that some of that love of the natural world will stick with them.

—Ashley Stumvoll, Life Sciences Intern

Written by Fernbank Museum at 11:17

Dinosaur Q&A


While I’m a fan of the idea of Chris Pratt leading a gang of Velociraptors, nothing compares to the original Jurassic Park. And, nothing compares to watching this most iconic of dinosaur films with an actual paleontologist! 

Author and paleontologist Dr. Anthony Martin of Emory University will lead the special presentation Science on Screen: Jurassic Park at Fernbank Museum, Sunday, March 22.* Before Dr. Martin delves into the science behind the film (can we talk about thatTriceratops poop??), I had a few questions for him.Tony Martin Blog

What is your favorite part of being a paleontologist?
My favorite part of being a paleontologist is going outside and searching for fossils, especially with other paleontologists. I’m really happy whenever I get the chance to do this.

Why are my arms so short?
Blame your ancestors and evolution for that. Your great-great-great-great grandparents probably didn’t need big arms to survive a typical day during the Mesozoic Era, so your arms reflect that history, which is perfectly, normal. Besides, long arms are overrated.

What is your favorite dinosaur?
Oh, that’s easy: Oryctodromeus cubicularis. This was a small ornithopod dinosaur from Montana that lived during the Cretaceous Period, about 95 million years ago. One reason why it’s my favorite dinosaur is because it’s the only known burrowing dinosaur, fossilized in its den with two younger dinosaurs of the same species. Even better, I was lucky enough to co-name it! Its name literally means “digging runner of the den.”

Have you ever met Jeff Goldblum?
No, I haven’t. But you know what’s really sad for him? He hasn’t met me yet, either. Hopefully it will happen someday: after all, life finds a way.

Do you have any snacks?
What did you have in mind: Chihuahuas or Great Danes? Wait a minute: why are you looking at me like that?

Black and blue or gold and white?
I like dresses of all colors, regardless of how people perceive them.

Do you think feathers would look good on me?
Oh, for sure. I’m thinking iridescent black for most of your body, with some yellow and red feathers on your arms, and hot pink on the top of your head. With an ensemble like that, think of how you’d rock the Buckhead night life!

When can we go to Jurassic Park?
I’m sorry to report that ‘Jurassic Park’ closed about 145 million years ago. Fortunately, though, we can still see the living descendants of dinosaurs today as birds. Which is pretty cool, because that means you can watch the relatives of ‘Jurassic Park’ in your backyard every day.

You can find Dr. Martin on Twitter at @Ichnologist. And you can find me on Twitter at@giga_a_dino and on Facebook

—Giggy A. Dinosaur

*Admission to Science on Screen: Jurassic Park is free, but space is limited and. reservations are required. 

Written by Fernbank Museum at 11:45

March 2015 Volunteer of the Month


We are pleased to honor Curtis Waltes as our March Volunteer of the Month.

Curtis began volunteering at Fernbank in 1997, assisting in Sensing Nature, but it was the variety of personal interaction with guests that lead him to become a Greeter and IMAX® Attendant. IMG_3865

Curtis loves traveling, and says he has never traveled anywhere he did not enjoy. His favorite destination has been the Amalfi Coast of Italy, but most recently he has begun to travel closer to home. He hopes his visits span the entire North American continent, ranging from past destinations like Nova Scotia, Canada to future plans for Yellowstone National Park. In addition to travel, he loves to watch old movies; The Sound of Music and Gone with the Wind are two of his favorites! At the Museum, Curtis looks forward to watching our IMAX® films and exploring special exhibitions.

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

—Kate Naylor. Member and Volunteer Services Coordinator 

Written by Fernbank Museum at 11:02

Here We Grow Again


Please join us in welcoming Eli Dickerson to Fernbank Museum as our new Ecologist. Eli will be coordinating programs and leading Museum ecology initiatives ranging from community engagement and public outreach to the ongoing restoration work inside the 65-acre Fernbank Forest.Eli On Blood Mtn

Eli is no stranger to Fernbank Museum. He previously served as Fernbank’s Environmental Outreach Programs Manager from 2005-2011, working with students, teachers, children and families to educate the public in environmental science. One of the programs he developed, UrbanWatch Atlanta, remains one of the Museum’s core science program for students.

And, Eli is no stranger to ecology! He has a wealth of experience, including positions with the National Park Service, Piedmont Park Conservancy and Trees Atlanta.

Read the official press release for more information on Eli’s experience and his new role at Fernbank Museum.

Learn more about "Atlanta's hidden gem," Fernbank Forest 

You might also be interested in:

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing

Written by Fernbank Museum at 13:26

A New (Familiar) Face


Hello fellow Fernbank enthusiasts! My name is Brooks Mitchell and I am the newest staff member in the education department. I have a Geology degree with an Anthropology minor from the University of Alabama, and I have been working with students in museums and science institutions for the past several years. As you may imagine, this is somewhat of a dream job for me! Brooks 300

Although I am stepping into a new, full time role with the Museum, I have been a part of Fernbank Museum since moving to Atlanta from Tuscaloosa, AL in 2013. I started out as a volunteer at Fernbank, working the A Walk Through Time in Georgia desk and playing piano in the café. I began working part time in the membership department shortly thereafter. In addition to my roles at Fernbank, I also worked at Georgia Aquarium as an Environmental Educator for most of 2014.

When I’m not teaching families about earth science, you might find me running (I just completed my first marathon and have an “ultramarathon” coming up soon), playing piano, or hanging out with my better half, Curtis the terrier/beagle mix. I am absolutely thrilled to be able to work with such an important part of the Atlanta community, and I am truly looking forward to helping our visitors understand the natural wonders of our planet. I hope to see you around!

—Brooks Mitchell, Programs Educator–Earth Science

Editor’s Note: See Brooks in action! He is part of our team of presenters for the Live Science Shows offering daily in The Power of Poison exhibition gallery.  

Written by Fernbank Museum at 16:48
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!

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