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How Big Basin’s Nature Museum Inspires Environmental Stewards PDF Print E-mail

 

People of all ages learn about the wonders of nature by engaging their senses. Textbooks and lectures might work well for subjects like math, but redwood science is best understood when smelled and touched. That’s one of the reasons plans are underway to renovate and redesign the Nature Museum and Research Center at Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

 

“We wanted to give our park visitors something to take with them as they venture into the park,” says Elizabeth Hammack, State Parks Interpreter III and museum renovation project manager. “Folks will be able to immerse themselves into the exhibits. A scene will unfold in the exhibit turning ordinary visitors into keen wildlife observers.”

 

Elizabeth explains that this project, already being designed, encourages visitors to assume the identity of a native park species and explore the interactive exhibits, learning about their being’s habitat, food sources, natural predators, and current chances for survival. Through this experience, visitors will discover which conditions threaten the creature’s survival, the science supporting its persistence, and what they can do to ensure its prolonged survival. The museum will include a new Citizen Science Lab where visitors will learn about scientists who have studied and protected Big Basin for over a century along with the current science revealing new knowledge about the redwoods, wildlife, and the plants of the park. Visitors will also have an opportunity to share their own park experiences as citizen scientists. A Wi-Fi hotspot will attract many seeking to use their personal electronic devices and will provide them with additional interpretive information.

 

“Everything about this museum is geared toward inspiring visitors to care more deeply about the ecosystem of the park,” says Brenda Holmes, Mountain Parks Foundation executive director. “That way they’ll naturally want to help protect their ancient redwood forest treasures.”

But transforming park visitors into environmental stewards requires financial support from the community. A great deal of momentum toward funding the project during the private phase of the campaign has already yielded many large donations from several donors including Monterey Peninsula Foundation, The Joseph and Vera Long Foundation, Sempervirens Fund, Hastings/Quillin Fund, an advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and others. As a result, the effort to reach the fundraising goal of $1.1 million is already 70% complete. Thanks to a matching grant from the Dean Witter Foundation, every dollar donated to the project now, up to $25,0000, will be matched dollar-for-dollar.

 

“Following in the spirit of this country’s very first conservationists who helped protect Big Basin from loggers back in 1902,” Holmes says, “this opportunity offers a wonderful way for all of us to join together to ensure our park’s survival for years to come.”

 

To learn more about the Big Basin Nature Museum and Research Center project, or to donate to the renovation campaign, visit bigbasinmuseum.org.

 
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