A week from tomorrow, three of our staff will take part in a free online event for students and teachers called Study the Land. Study the Land is the second in a six-part series connecting experts in environmental sciences with you and others around the world - both during these live webcasts and through ongoing connections with Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Network, the Smithsonian Institution, and TakingITGlobal's online community. Put together, this rich array of resources coalesces around themes about environmental responsibility known as “shouts.” These six themes – Live, Study, Change, Sustain, Value, and Celebrate - make up the Shout Learning Project, and as described on its website:
Shout gives participants a framework for success, with resources and tools for exercising social responsibility while building the 21st-century skills of collaboration, innovation, and critical thinking. When students are connected through technology and empowered to build activities in their own way the learning experience extends far beyond the four walls of a classroom ...take your own stand in making the world a better place. Now that’s something to Shout about!
The NMNH staff participating in this second “shout” come from our Botany Department and bring their expertise in a variety of areas including plant conservation, scientific illustration, and systematic biology. Explore their profiles linked below:
W. John Kress, Ph.D., is a Curator and Research Scientist, as well as the Director of the Smithsonian's Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet, and Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Yunnan [link to his staff bio]
We hope you’re now brimming with questions and excited to join them on January 26th. Don’t forget! Registration is free and only takes a few seconds. Can’t watch it live? Watch the archive, follow the tweets, and join in their Facebook community. We hope to see you there and at future Shouts.
Sarah Banks, Audience Engagement Specialist, Education and Outreach
Teddy Roosevelt, c. 1909. Image courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives.
President Theodore Roosevelt had a lifelong connection to the Smithsonian. He played a critical role in the acquisition of the Freer Gallery of Art, encouraged research and study of the Panama Canal Zone (now celebrating 100 years of Smithsonian involvement in 2010), and was a staunch supporter of the U.S. National Museum. He signed the bill authorizing the construction of a new building for the Museum (today the National Museum of Natural History), which opened its doors to the public 100 years ago. While on a post-presidency expedition to East Africa, jointly sponsored by the Smithsonian, he collected many animals for the Museum. These specimens formed the basis of one of the Museum's most popular exhibits for much of its first century.
When Roosevelt was only in his twenties, he offered the National Museum his childhood natural history cabinet, which he had begun at the age of nine and playfully called the “Roosevelt Museum of Natural History.” The collection featured insects and nearly 250 carefully labeled specimens of birds and mammals, including a number of Egyptian birds he had collected in the Nile Valley at age fourteen, while traveling with his father. The Museum accepted these donations and Roosevelt's continued patronage in the years to come, even when he was in the White House ...
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Headline announcing the Biological Survey, from The Washington Post, April 9, 1911.
Between 1910 and 1912, in what could be considered one of the first significant environmental impact studies, the Smithsonian conducted a comprehensive Biological Survey of Panama, to document the native flora and fauna of the isthmus prior to the completion of the Panama Canal. Naturalists across the United States had expressed concerns that the opening of the Canal would irrevocably alter the natural conditions of the land-bridge between North and South America. The Smithsonian took the lead, writing to President Theodore Roosevelt for support for a biological survey before the opening of the Canal.
Secretary of the Smithsonian Charles Doolittle Walcott declared, “When the canal is completed the organisms of the various watersheds [of the Isthmus of Panama, some of which emptied into the Pacific and others of which emptied into the Atlantic] will be offered a ready means of mingling together, the natural distinctions now existing will be obliterated, and the data for a true understanding of the fauna and flora placed forever out of reach.”
Museums and universities, notably the Field Museum and the University of Chicago, supported the project. The original aim of the survey was to make an inventory of the flora and fauna of the Panama Canal Zone, but thanks to an invitation from the Republic of Panama the survey was extended to all the national territory. The resulting research would provide a baseline of data for the entire region prior to the completion of the Canal in 1914 ...