Museum Musings

Family Fun at Fernbank Museum

Make the most of the dog days of summer with a variety of hands-on, minds-on activities at Fernbank. Here’s this weekend’s lineup of programs:

Saturday, August 29

Tadpole Tales
11:30am, Naturalist Center
Preschoolers will enjoy a story and a special activity, led by a Fernbank educator. This month’s story A Log’s Life by Wendy Pfeffer.

Excellent Experiments
1pm, Naturalist Center
Explore the amazing world of chemistry through fun experiments in a live presentation.

Live Animal Encounter
3pm, Naturalist Center
Get up close and personal with a member of Fernbank’s live animal collection.

Sunday, August 30

Tadpole Tales
1:30pm, Naturalist Center
Preschoolers will enjoy a story and a special activity, led by a Fernbank educator. This month’s story is A Log’s Life by Wendy Pfeffer.

Live Animal Encounter
3pm, Naturalist Center
Get up close and personal with a member of Fernbank’s live animal collection.

Looking for a more outdoorsy family adventure? Fernbank Forest Geology Tour, Sunday, August 30 from 10am – noon. Learn more about forest geology with a Museum scientist during this guided tour. Suitable for ages 8 and up. Advance reservations required.

All activities are included with Museum admission and are free for members. Subject is subject to change, so check the “Today at Fernbank” sign in the lobby when you arrive. 

We'll see you this weekend! 

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing 

Written by Fernbank Museum at 16:02

Go Inside Out at this Saturday at Fernbank

Join us Saturday, June 6 for a chance to learn more about Disney * Pixar’s new film Inside Out, presented as part of the Brain: The Inside Story Opening Day Celebration.

Learn about a variety of emotions including joy, anger, sadness and fear through hands-on activities. Then tour the special exhibition Brain: The Inside Story for even more insight into the inner workings of the most complex and fascinating biological structure—the human brain.

Guests at the Opening Day Celebration will also have a chance to win Inside Out prizes and screening tickets! 

Activities will be available 10am – 2pm. All activities are subject to change and prizes are available while supplies last.

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing

Disney * Pixar’s Inside Out opens nationwide June 19. 

Written by Fernbank Museum at 15:55

A Leafy Adventure

Disclaimer: My background is in communications. Before working at Fernbank I couldn’t tell a red oak from a pine tree. That said, one of the things I enjoy most about my job is the opportunity to learn more about natural history by joining one of the Museum’s unique educational programs. I’m able to discover and learn through a new perspective, often doing so with the curiosity of an explorer and the wide-eyed-enthusiasm of a child.

Speaking of natural history, Fernbank’s Summer Camp covers a variety of areas under the big umbrella that is natural history. So, I returned to summer camp, specifically on “Forest Day” for the Discovery Team camp (rising 2nd – 3rd graders).

Our lesson started in Fernbank NatureQuest, identifying trees (beech, long-leafed pine, short-leafed pine, red oak), part of plants (leaves, stems, roots) as well as seed dispersal.


Then it was time to take the lesson outdoors with a trip to Fernbank Forest with Fernbank educator, Charlee Glenn. Shortly upon entering the forest, we stopped to identify our first tree, a muscle tree. We did this not from memory, but by examining the bark, leaves and circumference of the tree.

The bark on muscle trees almost looks like veins that you’d see on bodybuilder flexing. Not only does the bark look similar to muscles, it is also a very strong tree. Despite having a smaller circumference, the muscle tree is very dense. To illustrate this, Charlee asked one of the campers to try to push the tree to see if it’d bend. (Note: it did not, but boy did that kid try.)


Next up (after navigating at least 5 spider webs), we found a red oak tree. Red oaks have lobbed leaves and its bark is light with dark stripes (like a zebra). Since one of the main identifiers we used for this tree was its leaves, we looked for some on the ground.


As we made our way to Huntemann Pond, Charlee talked about some of the animals that live in Fernbank Forest. As if on cue, a red tail hawk made its presence known with a series of calls. 

In addition to hawk calls, and despite the excited chattering of kids, you could still hear the rest of the forest: a variety of song birds, banjo frog, and the unmistakable “PLOP” of a frog jumping into the pond.

Today’s forest adventure included a special presentation by current FUN volunteer Meg, who has also served as a restoration volunteer in the Fernbank Forest Overlook. Her focus during that project was removing invasives. She provided a quick overview of the difference between invasive vs. native plants and how the invasives impact the native species.


It’s summer camp, so of course there was show and tell. Meg led a game of “Name that Invasive!” English ivy, kudzu, wisteria, privet and monkey grass - Oh my! Inspired by their new knowledge of invasives, one of the campers declared “let’s go pull ALL the monkey grass!”

Love the enthusiasm kid, but hold on a sec.

“You can’t just pull these [invasive] plants out of the ground,” Meg explained. She continued “It’s a careful process that takes time. We have to remove the entire plant, right down to the roots.”

As we made our way out of the forest, Charlee asked the kids to call out any invasives they spotted. One camper spotted a bank covered in English ivy and said “It’s like a football field of ivy!”


It was great to learn about the forest along with the campers. Their sense of wonder and endless curiosity was inspiring. Right up until I ran into my 6th spider web.


Click here to see more photos from my leafy adventure.

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing

Written by Fernbank Museum at 12:08

A Fond FUN Farewell

Sathvik.jpgThe Fernbank Ultimate Naturalist program, also known as the FUN volunteer program, provides and an opportunity for youth ages 13-17 to gain hands-on experience in a museum setting.

The Fernbank FUN program runs June through May and includes 80 to 90 students. FUN volunteers support Fernbank’s educational efforts through a variety of projects, including interacting with guests at special “Discovery Carts” stationed throughout the Museum, providing event support at family adventure days and more. 

Fernbank educators provide training, support and guidance to FUN volunteers. Currently leading the program is Education Program Manager–Earth Science, Kaden Borseth.

“Whether they volunteer for one year or 5+ years, every FUN volunteer makes a difference in the lives of guests and helps inspire a greater appreciation of natural history,” said Borseth.

Several volunteers enjoy the experience so much, they elect to continue the program until such time they age out—usually upon graduating high school.

“It’s bittersweet. We are sad to have to say goodbye, but also happy to see them moving on to great things,” said Borseth.

One of those bittersweet movements happened in May, as Fernbank said farewell to one of our long-time volunteers, Sathvik (pictured). In his own words, this is what the FUN program meant to him:

Thank you for four great years in the FUN program. I am graduating high school and moving on to The Johns Hopkins University, where I hope to study pre-med and major in Global Health Studies. I would like to eventually receive an MD and an MPH. I will definitely come by to visit Fernbank during summers and school vacations; my sister is starting the FUN program this summer. Thanks again for teaching me not only about science but also about how to speak to people and carry on conversations. The skills I learned through FUN have been very invaluable.

Thank you Sathvik. And thank you to all of our incredible FUN volunteers—past, present and future.

Information on the 2015-2016 program will be available on our website in February. Until then, please say “Hello” to our summer FUN team the next time you visit the Museum!

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing

Written by Fernbank Museum at 08:55

Special Summer Ticket Giveaway

Whale Watch 1.jpgDid you have a whale of a time in
Whales: Giants of the Deep? Did you take advantage of the special "Fernbank Whale Watch" photo opp? If so, that photo could win you TWO FREE IMAX® tickets! 

We want to see your “Fernbank Whale Watch” photos. And, just for sharing your pictures, you will automatically be entered to win 2 free IMAX® tickets.

It’s simple to share:

Need inspiration? Check out our #FernbankWhales gallery.  

Check out 97 Days of Play for more summer fun ideas! 

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing


Written by Fernbank Museum at 16:03
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!