Florida Museum of Natural History Matthew Duffy - University of Florida - susan lad

Very nice butterfly

Nature on Display: The exhibit that appealed to me most was the Butterfly Rainforest. This was so appealing because butterflies are beautiful and I have never been to a place where you immerse yourself into a butterfly habitat. It captured my attention because it seems to be the FLMNH main attraction, and there was a line when trying to enter. I had also heard about it previously before this assignment. I was lucky enough to be in the exhibit during the 2 pm butterfly release. Something I learned about the natural world during this moment that I wouldn’t have otherwise was just how free and beautiful insects can be, but that all living things have similar tendencies. One in particular is the fact that butterflies of the same color/type tended to immediately flutter near each other. I connected this to society today with race relations. I didn’t know whether or not I was going to enjoy this museum but I actually sat down and relished in the butterfly exhibit. Not only was it peaceful during a day of extreme stress, but it was simplistic in beauty. The amount of butterflies that are all around you is surreal because they are not afraid of humans. The best part, for me, was when a butterfly would land on my hand or shoulder. So many different colors of butterfly and incorporated into the exhibit made it especially enjoyable.

Me with butterfly (very exciting)

Nature and Ethics: Honestly, the exhibit was beyond amazing but I think it does the opposite of what Leopold recommends. I believe it’s important to understand other species, and I by all means enjoyed the exhibit, but we are doing exactly what he says we should not. We are not part of the biotic community when we hold hundreds of butterflies captive for educational purposes. While important, we are being “conquers of the land”, as Leopold describes it. I had an amazing time though; I felt calm in the butterfly exhibit, I was attentive and interested in what was going on around me, and I was thinking about how I have never been surrounded by so many insects that I wasn’t afraid of. People around me shared similar reactions. I heard a lot of “ooo”s and “ahhhh”s, and many people trying to stand still enough to entice a butterfly to land on them. There were elderly people enjoying this exhibit, very young children with families, and a few disgruntled good life students. Everyone connected with nature as we strolled through their habitat and let the butterflies peacefully flutter around us. My experience did instill a bit of ethical responsibility to nature. As I looked around, I appreciated just how beautiful things in nature can be, and it made me want to preserve these beautiful things at all costs. I think the little things like recycling should be more pressing issues in today’s world to save nature.

Nature and the Human Spirit: The Natural History museum, especially the butterfly exhibit, helps us step out of our ordinary lives in many ways. I cannot remember the last time, if ever, I was surrounded by more than one butterfly. It was surreal to see so many near me at once, and to have a few comfortable enough to land on me. Other exhibits took me out of my ordinary life because it included things that I had never seen before, or things that no longer exist so I would have no other way to experience them. It helps us appreciate the mystery and majesty of the world because it puts us in a place that is not what’s ordinary. There is so much in the Universe that no one understands, but educating people as best possible is great start. We learn so many things about tendencies and patterns of the natural world through observing. I learned more about butterflies in the 30 minutes I spent in the rainforest than I think I have ever before, not even knowledge over butterflies, but how they act and why.

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