Museum Musings

Isn’t Every Day Earth Day?


As a life sciences intern at Fernbank Museum, I’ve been given a wonderful opportunity in the form of helping plan the Museum’s 2015 Earth Day activities. As a budding ecologist and longtime outdoors enthusiast, Earth Day has always held a certain significance for me. The lessons instilled on this unique holiday helped strengthen the connection with nature I have felt from a young age—a connection that has taken me from the vast, open wetlands of Brazil to the dark, dense rainforests of Borneo. Alex -with -Long -Nosed -Horned -Frog -Borneo -FOR-BLOGFrom childhood hikes with my family to learning about composting and recycling in school, each Earth Day serves as a reminder; a window into a forgotten era of holism before man considered himself separate from nature. Yet, perhaps this is a naïve perspective. Though it remains essential for lessons of the past to be incorporated into our collective memory, we as a species should be looking to the future. The future is where our children and our children’s children will live and learn, and it's up to us to decide how the world will provide for and teach them.

Now let’s (briefly) talk numbers. Big numbers. For 4.54 billion years (that’s 4,540,000,000!), this planet has revolved faithfully around the yellow dwarf star at the center of our solar system, known affectionately to us as the “sun.” For about 99.9956% of this total time, modern humans were not around. In the mere 0.0044% of the earth’s existence since the evolution ofHomo sapiens, our species has managed to rack up a current population of nearly 7.3 billion people. According to these figures, the number of people living on Earth right now is far greater than the number of years the planet has even existed! For me, that’s quite a reality check.

“With great population size comes great responsibility.” Well, maybe that’s not exactly how the original quote went, but this version certainly has some truth to it. The human population has reached enormous proportions within the last few centuries. Consequently, many of the earth’s natural systems are struggling to maintain their functions in the face of our exponential expansion and the widespread pollution, deforestation, and oil/mineral extraction that comes with it. In the 1960’s, recognition of these environmental issues began to surface, and on April 22, 1970, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson and a strong-willed following of professors, students, and activists organized the first Earth Day (for those who were enjoying the numbers, that means we have been celebrating Earth Day for a measly 0.00000077% of the Earth’s existence!). Alex -with -3-lined -salamander -state -bot -garden -athens -FOR-BLOG 

Originally planned as a nationwide teach-in on the environment, the first Earth Day saw over 20 million Americans take a stand for environmental reform. Every year since, a growing number of people and nations have celebrated our planet by organizing festivals, fundraisers, and all types of events aimed at drawing attention to both the beauty and fragility of Earth’s ecosystems. Last year’s Earth Day saw over 1 billion people from 192 different countries pay homage to our Pale Blue Dot, and this year we expect nothing less.

For this reason, I am proud to help carry Senator Nelson’s torch this year by engaging the public, and specifically the youth, about Earth Day and its never-diminishing relevance. 

I invite you to join the Museum on Sunday, April 19 for a variety of Earth Day-themed programs including guided tours of Fernbank Forest and a special presentation from Save Georgia’s Hemlocks.

—Alex Terry, Life Sciences Intern

You might also be interested in Public Programs in Fernbank Forest, Current Restoration Work, Sustainability at Fernbank Museum

Written by Fernbank Museum at 12:33

April 2015 Volunteer of the Month

Minnie -Collins -April -VOTM-300We are pleased to honor Minnie Collins as our April Volunteer of the Month

Minnie loves meeting new people, which makes her a perfect fit for a role in Polaris. It was her friend and fellow volunteer Jean Lewis who encouraged her to join the group two and a half years ago.

An active person by nature, she makes an effort to step outdoors every day, whether it’s to attend her weekly yoga and Zumba classes or a travel club meeting.

Regarding her time with the Museum, her favorite memory is watching Alaska in our IMAX® Theatre, saying “It was the most enjoyable film I’ve seen here!”

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 09:44

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

Pick Your Poison(ous) Recipe

Toxins are everywhere, often occurring naturally in foods, but it’s the dose that makes the poison. Fernbank’s Dangerously Delicious Tasting Events feature some of these everyday poisons we love to eat. In anticipation of our next tasting event on March 29, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite recipes that are “to die for.”  

Cinnamon Cardamom Ginger Butter Glazed Salmon Banner Butter For Blog
“Poisons” included: cinnamon, salt
Courtesy of Banner Butter

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 sockeye or pink salmon filet, skin on 
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons softened Cinnamon Cardamom Ginger Banner Butter 

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 400 and then heat skillet over medium high heat.  
  • Add 1 Cinnamon Cardamom Ginger tablespoon butter to the hot pan.  
  • While butter is melting in skillet, sprinkle coarse sea salt on both sides of the salmon filet and then or spread softened Cinnamon Cardamom Ginger butter on each side, as well.  
  • Place the salmon on the hot skillet to caramelize until golden brown; around 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  
  • Place the entire skillet into oven for 8 minutes until salmon is cooked through.

Mark your calendars to join us Sunday, March 29 for another Dangerously Delicious Tasting Event!

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing 

Written by Fernbank Museum at 14:32

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
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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