Florida Museum of Natural History hannah blake

Nature On Display: My favorite part of my trip to the museum was definitely the frog exhibit. Right off the bat I was interested in it because the layout of the exhibit allowed you to initially only see the side of the frog tanks but you couldn't actually see the frogs. So, every time we stopped in front of one of the frog tanks, we were surprised by what was inside. Some of the tanks featured large images of frogs on the sides immediately visible, but they did not always match up with what was inside. I was kind of bummed because I thought the frog exhibit would be more like the butterfly one with frogs just out in one big exhibit to walk through, but after further thought, I understand that the poisonous ones would not mix well at all with the harmless ones. If I had not been able to see this exhibit, I would not have gotten to see how bright poisonous dart frogs are, how large some bullfrogs can be, or that some frogs live entirely in the water. I thought this exhibit was so fun because of the wide variety of specimen that were on display. My personal favorite was the swimming frogs.

epaNature and Ethics: One of the most poignant parts of my trip was when we walked through this section that made you feel like you were walking through Florida when it was inhabited only by Native Americans. There were murals on the walls painted to look like you were in marshes or swamps or on beaches along with life sized huts and models of people. I couldn't help but notice how drastically different I thought the landscape would look in the same places today. It made me think about how much human civilization has impacted the environment. I only remember one other person going through this section of the museum with us and they seemed struck by this one particular section that featured a man trying to catch a fish with a spear. She walked pretty quickly through the rest but stopped once she saw that part. I can't help but wonder if she, too, was struck by how different things are now. This section of the museum helped us to connect to nature by literally walking through it. It was so easy to imagine being in the swamps of Florida before all the land was sold and commercialized when the whole exhibit was life sized. As if walking through the exhibit wasn't enough, right at the end of it was a huge sign displayed talking about the very thing I had just noticed- the difference between the environment then and now!! The poster talked about the irreparable damage done to coastal habitats and made me think about what I could do going forward to do my part in the effort for conservation. It shed light on all the ways that we have mistreated the ocean and coast and made me want to do better for future generations.

Nature and the Human Spirit: The most beautiful exhibit in the museum was definitely the butterfly garden. I did the Harn tour and the Nature Museum tour with my friend Dinah and we went to the butterfly garden first, not even realizing that it counted towards part of this assignment. There is something magical about walking into a lush, dense garden with butterflies flying lazily all around you. It was relaxing as well as exciting to immerse ourselves in such a place. We enjoyed looking at all the beautiful flowers with butterflies flying all around our heads. We forgot about the assignment entirely and found ourselves just laughing and genuinely smiling about being in such a place. Being surrounded by so many butterflies helped us to better understand ourselves by taking us back to our youth. I have never felt so young and pure as I did when I was caught up in all the butterflies. I felt happy and fresh and refocused when I left. I don't think I will ever fully understand some of life's mysteries, but I felt like I was more in touch with them when I saw such majestic creatures floating all over the place. It was wonderful in a way that humans will never be able to emulate, only appreciate.

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