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The Florida Museum’s mission is inspiring people to care about life on Earth, which includes nature. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we can start by appreciating the natural world right in our own backyards.
Using Museum resources, spend a day, or an hour, learning about Florida’s backyard wildlife. Use our field guides, online activity guides and brochures to have fun and learn about the world we live in. As Shakespeare said, “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin…”
This *VIRTUAL* event is presented in partnership with the University of Florida Thompson Earth Systems Institute and will feature activities that are family-friendly, FREE and fun for all ages!Save the Date on Facebook
Virtual Event Schedule
|Noon-1 p.m.||ZOOM||Podcast Meetup: The Materialists|
|7-8 p.m.||ZOOM & Facebook Live||Science OFF Tap: Freshwater Fishes of Florida-What’s the Catch?|
Archaeology and material culture. What does all this stuff say about us? Join us on April 22 from noon to 1 p.m. as we virtually meet to discuss “The Materialists” podcast with its hosts Nigel Rudolph and Becky O’Sullivan of the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN). We will break down ‘Episode 10: Dust to Dust-Chapter 2’ and chat about its themes, including plastic use, decomposition, the Anthropocene Epoch and more!
Sign up on Eventbrite to receive the ZOOM invitation. This event is FREE and open to the public.
Before the meetup, listen to the episode on your favorite podcast platform or online at:
- Florida Public Archaeology Network – Central Region
- Florida Public Archaeology Network – West Central Region
- UF Thompson Earth Systems Institute
Join the Florida Museum and UF Thompson Earth Systems Institute for a FREE and engaging virtual presentation about Florida’s freshwater fishes on April 22 from 7 to 8 p.m.
Topic: Freshwater Fishes of Florida – What’s the Catch?
Speaker: Rob Robins, Collection Manager for the Florida Museum’s Fish Collection
- 7 p.m. – Introductions followed by the presentation
- 7:45-8 p.m. – Audience Q & A
Got five minutes? Then, there are so many ways to help the Florida Museum and other scientists. For example, be a citizen scientist with Notes from Nature! Here you can turn handwritten specimen labels into digital ones. (Warning – Museum staff has found this project to be addicting, so have fun!)
You don’t have to wait until Earth Day to help either. Read this blog and find out how to get started now.
If you are like most of us at home, you’ve noticed the chorus of neighborhood creatures throughout the day and night. Usually, you see your neighbors and are able to wave at them, but some of these animal friends are often heard and not seen.
- Sit down outside, close your eyes and listen. Try to match the calls you hear with these examples of Florida bird sounds.
- If you are patient, and still, you may be lucky enough to see the singer. Check out this Gallery of Southeastern Birds to see if you recognize anyone. TIP: Passeriformes or “perching birds” are the most common group of backyard birds.
- Now is a great time to start your life list of Florida birds! The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a Florida bird list and brochure on bird-watching basics.
- Some birds will call late in the day and into the evening, but nighttime is also a frog’s time to shine. Live near water? A retention pond? Listen for the jug‐o‐rum of the bullfrog. Not waterside? Tree frogs are everywhere and very loud about it.
- Sit down outside for a frog symphony. Match the calls you hear with these examples of Florida Frog Calls.
- Learn what amphibians and reptiles are your neighbors with this checklist of Florida Amphibians and Reptiles.
- If you are lucky, you will spot bats flying overhead eating everything that ‘bugs’ you! Or check out these Bat Cams for pre-recorded video of them leaving the UF Bat House and Bat Barn.
Researchers have a tool called a BioBlitz where a group of scientists and volunteers do an inventory to identify and record all species of living organisms in a defined area during a set time frame.
How about trying one at home with the help of some everyday items?
- Take that broken Hula-Hoop you were going to throw away and plop it down somewhere outside, the more natural the space, the better.
- Don’t have a Hula-Hoop handy? Use 8 feet of string or rope to make a circle in a good spot. Make sure you pick a space without those invasive fire ants!
- Take a piece of paper and pencil and list everything living you can see in your tiny world. Don’t forget to count plants as living things!
- Start by listing everything you can see without disturbing or touching anything.
- Next, gently move leaves and sticks to see what is sheltered under them.
- Be very careful with the living things in your circle, we’re a lot bigger than them. Remember to put everything back after checking for signs of life!
- Once you’ve got the hang of this, expand your horizons to see what else you can find. Try several spots in the yard. Which have the most diversity? Is anything found in one spot but not the other? Challenge family members to pick a spot and see who can find the most different kinds of life.
- Finally, identify your finds with the iNaturalist app!
- Butterflies are easy to spot around the cultivated plants and wildflowers in your yard. The more native plants in your garden, the better the chances are for Florida butterflies to find host plants to lay eggs on and nectar plants to feed from.
- Check out the “Florida Wildflowers & Butterflies” brochure to find out what butterflies are attracted to the different flowers in your yard.
- Have a plant that isn’t on this list? Try using the Museum’s plant sale list to help you identify them.
- If you have host and nectar plants for a specific butterfly species, you may be able to see more stages in the butterfly life cycle, such as an egg, to caterpillar, to pupa and to adult.
- Butterflies are flashy and easy to see, but their caterpillars may use camouflage to keep from being a bird’s lunch. That twig, leaf or bird dropping may actually be a caterpillar in disguise. Some caterpillars also use warning colors to say “I taste bad” to predators.
- Learn how to identify a few local butterflies with these Butterfly Augmented Reality Cards. Each card includes a photo of a butterfly and details about its life. Download and install the Libraries of Life app to enjoy a 3D surprise.
- Once you have learned to identify species of butterflies, start your life list and earn a Wings Over Florida achievement certificate. The Florida Museum partnered with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to develop Wings Over Florida, which is a free butterfly listing recognition program.
- Some Florida butterflies are becoming rare and one of the rarest is the Miami blue butterfly. Florida Museum scientists are working to save this south Florida species by monitoring wild populations, breeding the butterfly in the laboratory and closely studying its ecology to learn how to effectively re-establish it in the wild.
- To bring attention to this tiny species, a beer was named after it! In addition, check out this awesome coloring book on the Miami blue butterfly, available in English and Spanish, which teaches you more about their story while honing your art skills.
- Miss your exotic butterfly buddies from the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit? Watch them emerge from their chrysalis on the Chrysalis Cam or float around the outdoor enclosure on the Canopy Cam. Try to identify them using the Butterfly ID Guide.
The first Earth Day was organized on April 22, 1970 as a way to spread awareness and education about environmental issues. The cause has morphed into a global movement that extends into Earth Week with events and activities being held around the world leading up to and after April 22.
In honor of the 50th anniversary, the Earth Day Network has organized a variety of campaigns to inspire people to take action: EARTHRISE, Great Global Cleanup, Earth Challenge, Foodprints for the Future and Artists for the Earth.
Venue3215 Hull Road
Gainesville, FL 32611
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