• Seashore&Sealife:Upcoming Exhibit
  • Earth Day 2001 Wrap Up
  • Science Explorer's Club
  • Volunteer Training
  • Musings On Membership
  • Extended Museum Hours

Summer Edition 2001

Earth Day Wrap Up

Saturday, April 21, the Natural History Museum hosted it's 2nd Annual Earth Day Celebration. This year's theme "Focus on Energy," was an appropriate topic to address during this time of energy conservation, high gas prices, and possible "rolling black outs."

In an effort to educate the community about ways in which we can reduce our energy costs, lessen our strain on our limited environmental resources, and prepare for possible interruptions in our energy supply, the museum invited groups and organizations to set up displays and share information with our visitors. We were pleased to host such important organizations as the Santa Barbara County Air Quality Control Commission, The California Conservation Corps, Health Sanitation Services, The Santa Maria Public Library, Pacific Wildlife Care, and Toyota of Santa Maria.

In addition to information provided by these groups, visitors had the opportunity to see first hand the new electric/gas hybrid car available from Toyota, children and families were able to participate in a bicycle rodeo organized by the Santa Maria Police Department, and visitors got to read some books on loan from the library about alternative energy and energy conservation.

On top of all of this learning, visitors were treated to cake in honor of the museum's birthday! Earth Day 2000 was the grand opening of the museum and we hope to recognize our birthday every year during our annual Earth Day Celebration. If you have ideas for next year's Earth Day event, don't hesitate to share them with us.

The Science Explorers Club

Back in April, a group of 4 - 6th graders from the Santa Maria Bonita Unified School District participated in the museum's second pilot program of the Science Explorer's Club. This program is an innovative and necessary partnership between the school district, the County Office of Education, and the Natural History Museum to provide science enrichment programs to children in local school districts who are "off track" and need opportunities for learning during off-school hours.

In partnership with the Migrant Education Office of the school district, and Allan Hancock College, the museum was able to collaborate with schoolteacher, Steve Pallan, and local science professionals, including Douglas Coleman of the Santa Maria Police Department's Forensics Laboratory to provide a 2-week science camp for 20 children selected by the school district.

The 2-week program (April 9-20) was held in a classroom provided by Allan Hancock College. The children, who were "off track" at the time, gained 10 days of hands-on, interactive experiences in science and scientific principles. During week 1 the students explored the fundamentals of geology and natural history; week 2 focused on cell development, basic life science and biology. Utilizing the museum's collection of bones, fossils, birds and other great items, the students put to use some of the principles they learned while working with Mr. Pallan in the classroom.

After studying some concepts about cell formation, human anatomy and chemistry, the students visited Douglas Coleman at the Forensics Lab and learned what a forensic scientist does and what equipment and resources are used by someone in that field. This is a wonderful program and something the museum hopes to offer all year long. We would like to be an educational resource for the 2500 children in Santa Maria who are "off-track" at any given time. This program is offered at no cost to the students and is a worthwhile means of bringing science to a group of students often overlooked for science and math enrichment programs.

Please help the museum to bring science and natural history to more children in our community. If you are interested in donating money, time, or materials for the Science Explorers Club please contact the museum. The museum also needs funding to support another part time position at the museum to coordinate, lead, and survey the program.

Our Wonderful-And Well-Informed-Volunteers!

The volunteers of the Natural History Museum are an excited, dedicated, and knowledgeable group of educators. After our May 26 training session, they are even more so! Members of our Volunteer team met at the museum to discuss information pertaining to the museum's newest exhibit, "The Pacific Flyway" and to brush up on information about the rocks and fossils in our collection.

The training was started by Kelly White enabled the volunteers to hone their skills in communicating with visitors to the museum, develop strategies for teaching interesting facts in a meaningful and comprehensive way, and gain confidence in their knowledge of the museum's collection and mission. Most interesting was the information imparted by Ralph Bishop, an ardent and loyal supporter of the museum and the benefactor behind most of the collection of rocks and fossils on view at the museum. His loans to the museum make our collection possible and his willingness to share his vast knowledge with our volunteers was a great service to the museum and to the community.

A special thanks to Ralph and to the volunteers who attended the training and for all the volunteers who help us keep the museum's doors open.

Speaking of Volunteers…

The museum is always looking for more volunteers to help us serve the community. Volunteer opportunities are available in museum education, and exhibition enhancement. If you, or someone you know, have an interest in natural history and some extra time, we'd love to see them at the museum. There are plenty of ways to get involved so give the museum a call and we will let you know the program!

Musings on Membership

If you have been wondering about the value of membership in the Natural History Museum, perhaps the following story may remind you of your value and importance to the growth of our museum.

"I've just finished tending to eight fledgling Live Oaks at the front of our somewhat barren new home site. While dragging the hose in the rising heat, I'm thinking of this newsletter and what to say to the museum members who have so generously given the museum life.

Back at my desk, I haven't been able to see the oaks. The weeds are bigger. I planted the oaks last fall. I had a vision of majestic trees someday framing the property. I carried buckets of water and prevailed upon an obliging neighbor who had a faucet nearby during a January dry spell. Other neighbors stopped and encouraged me. Now my own faucet is reasonably close and anyway I think the roots can withstand periods between water and occasional gopher attacks. But without support, I know the trees will not make it until the winter rains come.

The museum will take hold and thrive only if our members continue to give generously. Initially they gave "on the come" because they shared the vision. We hope they will continue to give because they like what they see and know that we can keep growing with a little more sustenance.

It's working for my oaks. I can see them now from my house."

-Charles Stauffer

Santa Barbara County Fair

The museum will participate at the Santa Barbara County Fair, July 11-15. Come visit us at the Discovery Pavilion, SM Fairground! Our partners at SB County Fair are La Purisima Audobon Society, Health Sanitation Svc, The Dunes Center and Pacific Wildlife Care. A special thanks to Mr. Dana Richards for donating seeds from the Waller Seed Co.


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