The Good Life Nature Activity at the Florida Museum of Natural History Isabella Jaen

Nature on Display

Although I was raised in a place surrounded by nature, I used to be scared of insects, particularly butterflies. Luckily, that fear vanished some years ago and I could not hold my excitement as I entered the Butterfly Rainforest in the Florida Museum of Natural History for the second time. I was actually able to learn something before entering the exhibit: the guard in charge of instructing everyone told us that on this particular rainy day (65C) most of the butterflies would be hidden or very still, because they dislike the cold weather and the lack of sun, and prefer a weather of 75C. It was kind of disappointing to hear that, but luckily we were able to see a good amount of butterflies, and one even landed on my friend Delaney! I chose this exhibit because I remember that the last time I went to the Natural History Museum the Butterfly Rainforest was my favorite one. It was fascinating to see so many butterflies flying around and it allowed me to submerge myself into nature in a way I had never experienced before. Even though this time it was not as active as my last visit, just simply being in the Butterfly Rainforest surrounded by such beautiful creatures made me happy and allowed me to feel a sense of freedom and tranquility. This was definitely what I enjoyed most about my visit because this kind of interaction with nature is priceless. I also find it incredible that this exhibit allows for the public to appreciate these aspects of nature while scientists and specialists are also able to study the butterflies as well.

Nature and Ethics

Leopold invites us to "love, respect, and admire" aspects of nature in order to conserve them throughout time.
Seminole silver work was conducted by men; they modeled European coins into necklaces and earrings

The Natural History Museum provided me the opportunity to learn a little bit about the Seminoles of Florida and I was able to appreciate their past through this exhibit. Among the things I learned were the fact that Seminoles speak either Mikasuki, Creek, or both; that tradition is still passed among generations through legends; that Seminoles engage in ceremonies to honor several sacred things, like the Creator; and that children are born into their mother's clan. It was interesting to be able to gain some knowledge about the Seminoles that I would have not gained otherwise. I feel it is incredible that we are able to uncover things from the past through traditions, customs, legends, language, and material objects that are left behind and it is fascinating to acquire knowledge of a specific group of people through these things. Through the Seminole exhibition, the Natural History Museum allows visitors to connect with nature and maintains the Seminole culture alive by giving them the opportunity to learn, enjoy, respect, and admire it, just like I did and Leopold recommends.

Beaded shoulder bag; beadwork has always been representative of the Seminole culture and finger weaving was very prominent as well

Nature and the Human Spirit

The biggest teeth are those of a Miocene megatoothed shark (Carcharodon megalodon). I overheard a guide saying how these sharks used to be as long as 60 feet long.

The Florida Museum of Natural History allowed me to "connect to the eternal" (Heschel) through the various fossil exhibitions in The Hall of Florida Fossils because I was able to learn a little bit about the lives of animals that used to exist a long time ago. Some animals that exist today, such as the sloth, have evolved from these ancient creatures, such as from the giant ground sloth, and bring a sense of eternity into current nature as well. It is an out of this world experience and feels so surreal to presence fossils like these ones because the fact that these animals once walked the Earth is incredible to fathom. These creatures actually existed way before we did, and today we are able to step out of our ordinary lives and travel back in time through these exhibitions. Personally, this helps me understand that there were fascinating things that existed before me, and there will be even more fascinating things that will exist after me, so I might as well make the most of my time and do as much as I possibly can to at least leave a mark behind. The fossil exhibition helped me appreciate the mystery and majesty of the natural world by making me realize that everything in life is constantly changing and that is what makes life beautiful.

Giant Ground Sloth (Eremotherium eomigrans). Alive in Florida 2.2 to 1.5 million years ago and grew up to 15 feet tall.
American Mastodon (Mammut americanum). Alive from 3 million to 10,000 years ago. Skeleton found in Aucilla River. They ranged from 8-10 feet and weighted 5-7 tons.
All pictures were taken by me in the Florida Museum of Natural History. I have permission from my friend Delaney Raymond (also a Good Life student) to use the picture I took of her at the Butterfly Rainforest.

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