Good Life Nature Activity Logan Ham

Nature on Display

The hammock forest diorama is the first thing you walk into upon entering the Northwest Florida: Waterways & Wildlife exhibit.
The Cave Habitat is always a favorite, you can bypass it however.
The Seepage Bog is one of the more interesting habitats in my opinion.

The Prompt:

Explore the exhibits and describe one that is particularly appealing to you. Explain why you find the design of that exhibit to be appealing. How did the exhibit capture your attention? What did you learn about the natural world from the exhibit that you might not have understood through another medium? What is it about your experience at the museum that you found to be so enjoyable?

The Response:

I love the Northwest Florida: Waterways & Wildlife exhibit. I bring my kids to the FLMNH at least once a month, and the first place my son walks into is the cypress lined entrance to the exhibit behind the Mammoth. You walk through the themed entrance to an enormous life size diorama of a hammock forest with over 50 different plants and animals you can find. There are even little fake logs that the kids love to roll over to see the critters underneath. You then enter a limestone cave with many different animals, cave formations and even a spelunker. The kids always want to turn a flashlight on to see the bats that are completely hidden in the dark of the cave. You then exit the cave into a small diorama of a seepage bog habitat and the carnivorous plants that have evolved to flourish in the harsh environment. The kids enjoy the soundboard that plays the calls of different animals that call the bog home. After walking by a magnified version of a pitcher plant, you emerge from a doorway in to the Rivers room. There is another soundboard that plays different bird calls that live around the Apalachicola River. My oldest son likes to mimic the Barred Owl call. On the other side of the room, we travel back to 1300 A.D. when the Apalachicola River was a major trade crossroads. Through another transition into the last portion of the exhibit, Tidal Marsh & Barrier island, where you can see very detailed dioramas of either on their respective parts of the room. This portion is unfortunately not as large, and exits directly into the large corridor that connects the exhibits, so my kids usually rush through this portion of the exhibit. Overall, I love this exhibit because it places you right in the center of each habitat, and is filled with all the information anyone would ever want about each small part of each habitat. This medium is second only to actually going into the middle of each habitat with an expert and have them describe to you in detail every aspect of that habitat. No movie could place you within the setting like this exhibit truly can.

Nature and Ethics:

Nature and Ethics:

Leopold believes that conservation efforts are doomed to fail unless we learn to appreciate the land for more than just its economic value. He calls on us to “love, respect, and admire” the land, and he asks us to start viewing ourselves as members of the “biotic community” rather than as “conquers of the land.”

Did the Natural History Museum provide you the opportunity to experience nature in ways that Leopold recommends?

The Natural History Museum places you directly inside the habitats and cultures that make Florida special. Inserting someone into the situation leads to an appreciation that cannot be gained in any other way. When the exhibit magnifies a habitat you are the same scale as the creatures normally unseen. The museum places me in the center of a habitat and then explains every detail. The only thing better is to do as Leopold did; walking around on your farm observing a year of changes.

How did you feel, what did you sense, and what did you think as you went through the museum?

I have visited the museum many times, and every time I try to soak in as much as I can. I always feel a thirst to find a new information board that I have missed, while enjoying the texture that the exhibit dioramas' offer. Documentaries can only go so far, the museum gives you the sense of space within the environment. It allows you to think about how the living things that are literally around you. The Butterfly Rainforest takes the diorama to the next level by being alive. The butterflies are always flitting about if the sun has been out, and the sheer number of plants that are in that Rainforest makes your head spin.

How did other people react to its exhibits?

I have witnessed every reaction I think possible. I have seen the speedy runner, and I have seen the person that sits on the bench all day in one spot. There is also the person that sits on the bench and doesnt read a thing, while there is the person that reads every sign in the building. The museum doesnt exist without people in it. The natural world is art, and art requires a reaction.

How did the Natural History Museum allow visitors of the museum to connect with nature?

The Butterfly Rainforest literally lets you connect with butterflies from very interesting places. In the summer they will readily land on you. The kids really enjoy when they flit overhead. The 12-times life-size Underwater Walk-through puts you eye level with the tiny creatures that feed the estuaries.

Did your experience in the museum instill in you an ethical responsibility to nature as Leopold imagines?

I would say it has. The museum gave me a deep appreciation for the two corners of our state. I grew up in the middle of it and never felt like I appreciated the entire state. The diversity of habitats in the Northwest and the cultures i never knew existed down south. I want to protect Florida now more than ever after visiting the museum.

Nature and the Human Spirit:

Heschel believes that we need to take time in our daily lives to connect to the eternal so we can recognize the mystery and majesty of the Universe.

How does the Natural History museum help us step out of our ordinary lives?

The museum removes you from your life and plunges you into the lives of Florida. The South Florida People & Environments exhibit especially removes you from the present and presents you a thriving world that existed for centuries before the Europeans arrived, and continues to survive today. You are allowed to explore the world the peoples before you explored. The dioramas are so detailed you can trick yourself into thinking it is real. The beginning of the exhibit gives you context.

How does it help us better understand who we are and better appreciate the mystery and majesty of the natural world?

The museum gives us context in our surroundings. I better know where I am after visiting the museum, and feel a connection with the Natural Florida and the Native Florida. I can begin to see the Natural world outside of the museum with a better appreciation, more focus. I can better tune in to the mysterious.

Created By
Logan Ham

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