Florida Museum of Natural History Emily Greiwe: The good life nature activity spring 2017

Nature On Display

Spending time in The Butterfly Garden was an especially enjoyable part of my visit to The Florida Museum of Natural History. As a young child, even at 4 years old, I was obsessed, totally captivated, by butterflies. Visiting this exhibit was something on campus I had been itching to experience, The arching, atrium ceiling and greenery thick with exotic plants did not disappoint. The design of the garden is such that guests may follow a designated path, but can stop to observe anything they find particularly interesting along the way. Florida experiences part of the Monarch Butterfly migration; I remember this from butterfly books I had as a child. So, when I saw five monarchs sitting on milkweed leaves (their preferred food source,) I couldn't help but stop for a few minutes to observe them. Nature, without losing the integrity of it, is very difficult to "put on display." However, the butterfly garden achieved this by creating an ecosystem serving their plants and wildlife, but one that also allows visitors to safely observe nature in a realistic yet accessible manner.

Nature and Ethics

To "love, admire, and respect" nature, as articulated by Leopald, can be easily achieved through unified efforts to preserve nature and the species of wildlife. The Butterfly Garden seems to serve as a contained example of this idea of a singular, "Biotic Community." Swallowed by the canopies in the atrium, and sensing the trees stretching far above head and into the air space, visitors become a part of the mini - ecosystem during their time there. One of the most interesting things I observed while in the exhibit was not any of the resident wildlife, but a child visiting with his family. Just minutes before, I had witnessed the boy running around and yelling, unable to be controlled. Yet once he set foot into the Butterfly Garden, he remarkably grew calm, and slid into a state of peaceful amazement as he became a temporary part of the environment. Nature is found by many people to be calming, and if we, people, work toward a more conservative and appreciative relationship with nature, it's therapeutic properties as well as beauty are only enhanced. If we recognize and celebrate these qualities that nature has, its value increases. Deforestation or exploitation of resources becomes more difficult to justify in our society. Just as the little boy, I found myself taking deep breaths while walking around, forgetting how long I had spent there.

Nature and the Human Spirit

Fostering an empathetic connection of humans to other living things can prove difficult, and can cause us to forget the value they possess. However, the exhibit Frogs! A Chorus of Color, showcases live animals who have bright eyes, and arms, and legs and heartbeats just as we do. The frogs exhibit inside of the museum brought together in the same room, species from all over the world that varied in size and shape and temperament. Glass cases allowed for a perfect observation experience. The museum perfectly illuminated the astonishing fact that we are part of a global ecosystem, literally including the entirety of earth. Remembering that we as humans are not the only living things on the planet does more towards the effort of conservation than any sort of protest. There is a spiritual factor that comes into play when empathy and morality become involved in making a decision (for example, whether to conserve a swamp, or expand apartments.) It is important for us to realize that our actions affect not only our immediate environment, but our global one.

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