Slater Museum of Natural History is being honored by the Tahoma Audubon Society for its contributions to the community. The 2014 Distinguished Service Award–Community will be presented to the museum by the conservation and environmental education society at its 45th Annual Membership Banquet on Saturday, Feb. 8.
The honor recognizes decades of contributions by the University of Puget Sound museum to local conservation, scientific research, and public education about birds and other wildlife. Dennis Paulson, director emeritus of the museum, who will be keynote speaker at the awards dinner, and current Slater Museum Director Peter Wimberger will receive the award on behalf of the museum. The event will take place 5:30–8:30 p.m., at the Temple Theater Ballroom in Tacoma. See below for more details.
“On behalf of the museum and all of the staff, faculty members, teachers, and students who have been part of our work in the schools and in the community, I am grateful for this public recognition,” said Wimberger. “As custodians of this important collection, we have always aimed to contribute to research and to education. I know that for all of us at Slater Museum, the response we get from visitors, scientists, artists, and visiting schoolchildren has been an immense reward in itself.”
Slater Museum, home to more than 80,000 specimens, is one of the region’s significant repositories of bird, mammal, reptile, amphibian, and plant specimens from the Pacific Northwest. It is the only natural history museum at a liberal arts college whose collection fully serves both educational and research purposes.
Every year, through the Nature in the Classroom project, more than 1,500 fourth and fifth grade students explore nature through educational kits that Slater Museum distributes to regional schools. The kits of plant life, nests, insects, bones, shells, birds, and seeds, come with names such as Tooth Sleuth, BirdDiversity!, and Wild Things!
In addition each year more than 1,000 people visit the museum through tours and special Nights at the Museum. Slater partners with Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on education programs and has provided specimens and educational materials for the David Douglas exhibit at Washington State History Museum and the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture in Spokane.
Partnerships with the Tahoma Audubon Society and Tacoma Nature Center have further extended the museum’s educational outreach. Slater cosponsors workshops and classes, including the public hawk-watching class currently underway on the Puget Sound campus.
“We welcome inquiries about the museum’s use, whether for school or college classes, citizen tours, research, or for artists’ individual use,” Wimberger said. “One event to watch for is on Wednesday, Feb. 12, when we will kick off our spring series of open evenings with a Birds of Prey Night at the Museum. We will even have some live animal guests from Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.”
Another opportunity of special interest to citizen scientists: Members of the public can participate in national science research through the Citizen Science Projects that Slater promotes through its website. Citizens are asked to report observations of birds, bees, stars, and other natural phenomena in projects organized by universities and institutions around the country.
On the research front, Slater Museum provides a valuable repository. Data and photos from its collection are available to scientists worldwide through digitized and geo-referenced databases. Locally its specimens and data have been used for research on diverse projects, including studies of plastic ingestion by seabirds and research on the Common Murre.
The museum holds open hours for the public each Wednesday and Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., when student docents help visitors explore the collection. Visiting groups of 10 or more, or those with special inquiries, are requested to notify the staff in advance at slatermuseum.
The Tahoma Audubon Society’s 45th Annual Membership Banquet is open to the public, but attendees must RSVP in advance by calling 253.565.9129 before noon on Friday, Feb. 7. Tickets will not be available at the door. To learn more about the banquet or the society’s activities visit: tahomaaudubon.org
To learn more about Slater Museum of Natural History or to view The Critter Jitter video created for University of Puget Sound’s 125th anniversary, visit: pugetsound.edu/slatermuseum.