Nature on Display The "Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life & Land" exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History captured my interest with its large assortment of skeletal reconstructions. The chronological order of the exhibit made it easy to follow. This medium was far more immersive than reading about this history in a textbook, relying only on small photos for reference. It was interesting to see how the land and the animals changed over the course of Earth's history. For example, I learned about the extinct beardog, in this photo over my right shoulder, which once roamed about North America. I loved being able to walk through recreations of ancient habitats, complete with extinct flora and fauna, and be immersed in Florida's history.
Nature and Ethics The "Northwest Florida: Waterways & Wildlife" exhibit best illustrated to me the ethical need for conservation. This exhibit recreated Florida as it once was before colonization, complete with Native American settlements and murky estuaries. It helped me feel as one with the natural world and appreciate wildlife by placing me right in the middle of it. Seeing the land as it was before European settlements, especially contrasted with the land as it is today, provided a poignant example of how careless we as humans are when it comes to the environment. Many of Florida's once swampy habitats have been drained and leveled to make room for the theme parks of central Florida and the high rises of South Florida and are preserved only as a recreation in the museum.
Nature and the Human Spirit The "Butterfly Rainforest" exhibit definitely allowed me an escape from the real world, if only for a short period of time. Being immersed in a purely natural setting helped me to step away from my everyday stresses, connect with the spirit of nature, and feel as pure and kind as a butterfly. My friend Jeffrey (the butterfly) helped to show me that in the natural world, all are equal. Instead of fearing me as a larger creature, Jeffrey crawled onto my foot and walked right up my leg. Everything in nature is connected, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, and while surrounded by nature at the museum, I felt this more than ever.