Museum’s Collection Crawl Inspires Younger Generation
Erik Kersting

critter-crawl-1-color-zak-mixdorf1.jpgSaturday morning on any college campus is one of the quietest times of the week. Most students sleep in and yet early on March 9 the University of Wisconsin – Steven’s Point was filled with over 600 people, mostly families, learning about musk oxen, dinosaurs, tortoises, and all sorts of natural history.

The fourth annual Collection Crawl put on by the UWSP Museum of Natural History was a huge success. Free to the public, citizens of Stevens Point were invited to explore the vast collection the museum has as it was sprawled over campus. The event had many different faculties involved, with sections for holding tortoises, hearing a Tyrannosaurus Rex roar, and exploring exhibits on earth’s long and illustrious history.

Perhaps the age group most excited about the event were young children, aged 5 to 10. The museum’s main component was filled all morning with children’s voices as they saw, many for the first time, life sized tigers, bears, oxen, and moose.

Laughter and excitement filled the air with questions like “What’s a reindeer?” and gigantic smiles preceding, “Look how big that moose is!” Parents used this opportunity to teach their children about biology and natural history.

Tim Thornburg, an employee of the museum, helped explain the purpose of the event.

“The collection crawl is a large community event to try to get the whole community and public in to check out the museum,” Thornburg said. “Essentially the collection is a monstrosity of collections for the public.”

Thornburg ran the museum’s store during the event and was able to interact with many children. He viewed the event as being very important for the youth and their growth.

“It’s very valuable for them to see different animals and learn more about the world they live in,” Thornburg said.

The children, many of whom were initially apprehensive about going to a museum for a day, were pleasantly surprised.

According to Kacey Tait, a wildlife major and senior at UWSP, manned a station which allowed people to touch different fossils.

“A lot of times they think it’s just a normal piece of rock or a piece of wood and you tell them it’s a mammoth tusk or a dinosaur bone and their faces light up,” Tait said.

Tait hopes that the event did more than just excite children and teach them a thing or two about history.

“I think a lot of times it’s important to connect them with nature earlier. They’re very curious. They’re very willing to learn about things. And if you can get them excited about things now they’re going to be passionate when their older and be able to be advocates for nature,” Tait said. “Helping to protect the environment and helping to protect the things they love when they’re kids.”

So while Saturday mornings may be uneventful for most college students, younger students can look forward to the fifth annual Museum Crawl next year, where new exhibits and exciting facts will be waiting for their eager and exploratory minds.