For this common activity, we were challenged to find exhibits that exemplified natures impact on society in terms of display, ethics, and human spirit. I walked in and was instantly excited to explore Florida's natural history upon seeing this HUGE fossil!
fossilized skeleton of a Mastodon
Our first task was to analyze nature on display. The whole museum exemplified this with its incredible replicas of different environments in Florida. Of all of the exhibits, my favorite was the Northwest Florida exhibit. Walking in, I felt as if I had stepped right into a real forest. All of the plants and animals depicted were lush and realistic. After the forest was the cave. Though too dark for pictures, the cave was by far the best part of the museum. It was a very unique experience finding my way through the forest and then a dark and realistic cave, almost like I was no longer on campus. Being new to Gainesville and Florida in general, I learned a lot about the different environments and natural life in the area. There are so many types of life here, from plants to tribes of Native Americans, that I didn't know existed. The realism and beauty of the exhibits helped to educate and entertain me in a child-like, playful way.
Hammock Forest in the Northwest Florida Exhibit
Native American trading on the Apalachicola River in the Northwest Florida exhibit
The next aspect we were to describe was nature and ethics. The exhibit I thought exemplified Leopold's ideologies the best was the underwater walkthrough. He talks about becoming a part of the biotic community and this exhibit did just that. As I walked through the blue-lit exhibit with animals 12 times life-sized I felt a part of that estuary community. The exhibit, and the museum as a whole, talked a lot about the impact we humans have on the environment, as all rivers, estuaries and more can be effected by things we may put into them. Another exhibit had pictures of all the species in Florida that may become extinct in our lifetimes. Others in the room had the same reaction: shock. It's a hard reality to face when we see all the animals that we, as humans, have put into endangerment due to pollution and other actions. This and the rest of the museum inspires a greater appreciation for the nature surrounding us.
Underwater walkthrough of an Estuary (in South Florida People & Environment) ft. an oversized Crab
A few of the endangered animals of Florida in the Extinction section of the Florida Fossils exhibit
Lastly, we had to address aspect of nature and human spirit. Hershel's belief in spending time with nature is truly exemplified throughout the museum. One is able to walk through many environments found around Florida and can experience these and see animals they may not in real life. One can really understand the diversity, majesty and complexity of nature on our planet in two exhibits specifically. One is the Wall of Wings in the butterfly exhibit, which displays thousands upon thousands of extraordinary butterflies from all over the world. The other is my personal favorite: Florida Fossils. This exhibit displays a timeline of different organisms from history. To see how long ago and how many different types of animals and plants that have existed since the dawn of time, is extremely enlightening. It allows one to really appreciate all that way have and acknowledge how few and young we are as a species. Furthermore, it allows us to appreciate the beauty of being able to experience all the diversity this world has to offer. In general, the museum provides visitors with a unique way to experience places in our own backyards and see just how incredible they may be.
just a few of many displays of the diversity of butterflies in the Wall of Wings section of the Butterflies Exhibits
Animals that existed way before our species in the Florida Fossils exhibit
a massive fossil record of an animal that once existed in Florida! (in Florida Fossils)