Florida Museum of Natural History By: will sink

Nature on Display

Nature offers us an opportunity to observe and understand the power and ability of our planet in our own backyard. It is constantly around us, interacting with our lives in different ways whether it be providing resources or impacting our day to day lives with changes in weather. Watching plants grow through driveway pavement and learning about birds that have adapted their beaks to be able to pry open tough, man-made materials proves how much more powerful Earth is than anything we could ever create. As a result, man must learn to accept that we can never conquer nature, but should instead learn to appreciate and respect it. The Florida Museum of Natural History is the perfect place for such appreciation to begin. The designers and creators working there have crafted an amazing platform on which environmentalists can showcase all that nature has accomplished in Earth's short life. One such exhibit that caught my attention is the "Northwest Florida: Waterways and Wildlife" exhibit. This exhibit offers a unique opportunity to be able to interactively explore different habitat types, while learning about Florida's natural water systems. The design of this exhibit caught my attention because the designers were somehow able to fit a variety of habitats in a relatively compact space. It is also very easy to follow and very informative as you follow a path of water flow that leads you through a hammock forest, a cave, a life-size seepage bog, river, and tidal marsh. It was as if I was travelling around Florida without ever having to leave the building. Had I not had this experience, I would not have a solid understanding of how important water is to Florida, besides the obvious ocean resource. I particularly enjoyed the cave portion of the exhibit as I had never been anywhere with that kind of geography, and definitely didn't know that caves are even part of Florida's vast geography. I learned about the power of water to create its own path through sheer force, and how vital it is to avoid upsetting its natural flow.

The cave portion of the "Northwest Florida: Waterways and Wildlife" exhibit.

Nature and ethics

I've always heard that we are damaging the planet but have never been in tune with ways to help conserve and preserve nature. My experience at the Florida Museum of Natural History allowed me to feel more connected to the conservation effort, and even look into ways to get involved on a daily basis such as recycling more and conserving water. The hands-on approach to learning about nature gave me a deeper understanding of nature's power and importance. It is our main provider and home, yet we are destroying it for materialistic reasons; overusing resources, wasting materials, and tearing apart the land in search of wealth. Being surrounded by so much natural beauty throughout the museum I felt impressed by nature, as I was able to learn more about the complex workings of an ecosystem. Other people had similar reactions to the exhibit which was easily observable, especially in the kids who were so excited by each new environment they entered. There were also many opportunities to interact directly with nature in the museum. Walking through the different habitats they replicated allowed visitors to feel as though they were really in a different natural ecosystem. Similarly, there were programs that you could buy tickets for to interact directly with butterflies. Being so close to nature did make me feel more ethically responsible to make changes in my own life for the benefit of nature.

nature and the human spirit

The Florida Museum of Natural History is an amazing institution that allows its visitors to get a close, hands-on experience with nature, and as a result increases those visitor's connection to nature. It allows us a chance to look into the past and see how far our planet and nature have come. Additionally, the exhibits take you out of the environment you were in before you entered, and immerse you in nature in its true form. This reminds us of our role to protect that majesty of nature, and preserve its resources and habitats. Seeing these geological structures and thick foliage allows us to consider the mystery of humanity and how much we've developed as species and society.

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