Geek Week: A Magical Gathering for Fantasy Fanatics

Post written by Charlotte Conway, Public Programs Assistant.

A Magical Gathering for Fantasy Fanatics

I cannot wait to meet all the witches, wizards, and muggles alike who will attend this year’s Fantasy Fanatics day at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery’s wondrous Geek Week. We Hufflepuffs certainly do appreciate a friendly gathering. And with so many magical things to do, it’s a wonder where I will start this year!

I may just begin in my favorite section of the museum, with the animals! In my years at Hogwarts, we were permitted the usual creatures – cats, rats, and owls. There was always the occasional dragon or phoenix on school grounds as well. But what excites me most about this year’s Fantasty Fanatics day are the real Fantastic Beasts. I may have heard of or even seen some of these creatures before, but I never had the opportunity to see them so up close. And I will finally have the chance to ask all my questions to some expert beast handlers as well.

I even heard rumors there may be dragons at this year’s Geek Week. Not to worry, I am certain they will be well contained. They so rarely escape, and besides, they are miniature this year! Those fire-breathing creatures are so small you can even take one home with you. I am just so excited to see all those fascinating creatures!

Of course I won’t be ready for the day without my wizarding attire first. A quick stop at the Costume-Making and Photo Booth station should prepare me with the proper Hufflepuff attire. I simply must wear my yellow tie so everyone knows my House. There will be costumes for simply everyone – even the muggles can become magical with a little costuming and a lot of imagination!

Once I have my clothing in order, I suppose I will need to make my wand next. Each wand is unique to its wizard, you know! Once I have my wand, it would be in good form to learn some powerful spells to perform. I may need them for protection against the dragons! It will be wonderful to learn alongside so many upcoming witches and wizards, too. I even hear they may allow muggles to try out some spells!

Next, I will certainly need to make my way to Divination Class. Divination is spectacular, and it connects with the muggle science of astronomy! Muggles have come so far in their understanding of the planets and stars. We can learn a lot from their scientists and astronomers.

Speaking of science, I hear they may be concocting a special class on the Science of Mermaids at this year’s Geek Week, too. I try to avoid those aquatic humanoids on school grounds – they can be quite unpleasant when provoked. The Mermaids at Geek Week seem to be of another sort entirely, though! I’ll be quite pleased to see what they have planned for this unique learning experience!

With such a marvelous assortment of exciting, educational activities, muggles and wizards alike will rejoice! Where will you start this year?

Check out fcmod.org/geekweek for other events this week!

Join us for Geek Week: Fantasy Fanatics on March 21.

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Geek Week: Superhero Showdown

Post written by Jason Wolvington, Associate Director.

Superhero Showdown

I remember the day clearly.

I was in 4th grade, and home sick for the day. You know how those days went: simultaneously happy to not be in school, but disappointed you couldn’t enjoy it because you were feeling so bad. Stuck in your room, there wasn’t much to do but rest, assuming you hadn’t faked it for the day (I didn’t, I promise). In my case, resting meant curling up in my bed reading tattered old Uncle Scrooge comic books I had accumulated over the years. When Dad came home from work later that night, he handed me fresh a stack of comics he picked up at the local 7-11 to help me feel better. As I flipped through the books, I stopped on a random issue of Spider-Man that was mixed into the stack. What happened next was pure magic.

What’s this?! I don’t read these kind of comics!  *scoffs at idea of superhero comics* Where’s my Disney?!  *stares in disgust at the Spider-man cover*   Where’s my Rocky and Bullwinkle?! *begins to flip through the unfamiliar pages of Spider-Man* Where’s my…..?!  *sentence cuts off as eyes grow wider by the amazingness of this new superhero world* And that’s how my love for superhero comics began. I’m still an avid comic book collector to this day, no doubt using my super-human museum skills to help organize, preserve, and protect my collection. Sure, I love the monthly adventures of my favorite superheroes, but I think deep down it’s much more about what comic books do overall: as a kid, they inspire awe and ignite your creativity and imagination (remind me to tell you one day about the “Atomic Chicken” comic I created in junior high). And as an adult, they’re an escape from pressures of the world around us, and a platform for powerful storytelling on a variety of subjects.

All that said – and unsurprising to you, I’m sure – I’m a total geek. And let’s face it: I know there’s more out there. You know who you are.

You who love to watch Star Wars every single time it’s on TV. Who catches up on the latest Game of Thrones theories, and won’t realize you missed dinner because you were so immersed in your latest video game adventure.

At FCMoD, we love geeks. And we love nerds, too. You’re the ones who keep life interesting, never stop exploring, and are always looking for ways to make the world a better place.

Welcome to #GeekWeek, friends…hope you enjoy your stay.

Check out fcmod.org/geekweek for details on the festivities!

Join us for Geek Week: Superhero Showdown on March 22.

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Geek Week: Sci-Fi Strikes Back

Post written by Charlotte Conway, Public Programs Assistant.

Sci-Fi Strikes Back

On the surface, science and fiction may appear to be complete opposites. Fiction tells us stories about people, places, and things that are imaginary. Science gives us knowledge about our world through observation and experimentation. Yet, the two are not as dissimilar as they seem. In fact, science fiction, the genre dedicated to imagining the world through the science and technology of the future, has helped many scientists with their work in the real world!

Take, for example, the inventor of the submarine. American scientist Simon Lake was inspired by the undersea adventures in the science fiction novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne! And Lake is not alone in drawing inspiration from science fiction: the inventor of the cell phone, Martin Cooper, gives credit to the communication devices he saw on the show Star Trek.

In our modern world, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) has garnered a lot of attention, and for good reason. In the 21st century, many jobs will lie in the STEM fields. Yet without the arts, even the most advanced scientists can lack the imagination necessary to developing creative solutions.  A large part of the engineering process is to imagine possible solutions to a problem. And when those solutions don’t work, it’s back to the drawing board to come up with new ideas.

Through a stretch of the imagination, sophisticated scientific advances can be made!

 

Check out fcmod.org/geekweek for other events this week!

Join us for Geek Week: Sci-Fi Strikes Back on March 20.

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Prominent Women in Fort Collins History

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant. 

Prominent Women in Fort Collins History

Every year we celebrate Women’s History Month in March by recognizing the contributions of women throughout history. This year for Women’s History Month, Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is highlighting the accomplishments of seven prominent women in Fort Collins History, whose stories are preserved in the Archive here at the museum. Learn more about Clara Ray, Elizabeth Hickok Robbins Stone, Inga Allison, Jovita Vallecillo Lobato, Charlene Tresner, Leonore (Nora) Rice Miller, and Phyllis Rosabonheur Greene Mattingly.

Clara Ray (1899-1987)

Clara Ray served as a pediatric nurse from 1929 to 1972 at the Poudre Valley Memorial Hospital. In those early years at what was called the old Poor Farm, Clara stoked fires in the coal-burning stoves and cleaned rooms as well as caring for patients. In those days, the nursing “staff” worked essentially on duty 24/7.

If there was an emergency night surgery, one of them assisted; when a patient was critically ill, they took turns napping and tending the patient. Clara could always be found rocking a young child to sleep. Clara served many at the Hospital.

 

Elizabeth Hickok Robbins Stone (1801-1895)

Elizabeth Stone, born in Hartford, Connecticut, would travel a long way in her life to make her home in Fort Collins, Colorado. Elizabeth Stone became a local legend as our own cities very own Founding Mother. Auntie Stone was famous for her energy, and she acquired her nickname of “Auntie” from serving on the frontier with soldiers in the mess hall.

Stone had many accomplishments in her life – she was beloved in her own time, and still is today. She started Lindell Mills, the town’s first flour mill. She was in the hotel business. And today, Auntie Stone’s very own historic cabin is currently located at the Heritage Courtyard on Mathews Street. She continues to inspire history interpreters, educational programs, and many more!

 

Inga Allison (1876-1962)

Inga was known for her contributions to academia. She joined the Home Economics department at Fort Collins’ Colorado Agricultural College in 1908, at a time when several faculty members were starting to study the unique effects of high altitude on both crop growth and food preparation. Inga conducted active research in food preparation and preservation without laboratory facilities. Allison entered academia via research and natural sciences and became the head of the Home Economics Department, expanding the course of women’s education.

Next time you successfully bake a pan of brownies in Fort Collins that doesn’t develop a sinkhole in the middle, it will probably be because you considered some of the science developed by Dr. Allison.

 

Jovita Vallecillo Lobato (1908-2005)

Jovita was born in Fort Collins in 1908. Jovita’s parents worked in the sugar beet fields, and they understood that the way to a better life was through education, and thus encouraged Jovita and her younger brother Salvador to go to college. This was not the reality for most parents in Jovita’s community at the time – many children were needed to help support the family and work in the fields rather than go to school.

Jovita graduated from Fort Collins High School in 1932. She was the first Mexican-American student to graduate from public school in Fort Collins. Following high school, she enrolled at CSU (known at the time as Colorado Agricultural College) and became the first Mexican-American to graduate from CSU in 1936 – with degrees in economics and sociology, and a minor in education.

There are no identifiable photos of Jovita in either the Fort Collins High “Lambkin” yearbooks, or the CSU “Silver Spruce” yearbooks. The only time her name is mentioned is one instance in the 1937 Silver Spruce under the heading “Additional Seniors.” While there’s no evidence that these omissions of Jovita were intentionally malicious, they do follow a pattern of marginalized people often being invisible or overlooked in the historical record. Additionally, these omissions make people like Jovita difficult to research – most of the information gathered is from more recent newspaper clippings and the small number of materials that her family donated to the Archive.

 

Charlene Tresner (1918-1990)

Charlene was a lover of history. Charlene was assistant editor of the student newspaper at Fort Collins High School and she attended Colorado A&M, present-day CSU, where she was feature editor of the Collegian. Charlene also collected thousands of photographs and other archival materials, storing items under her bed until the local history section of the library was completed.

So many people have worked to make the Archive what it is over the years, but Charlene truly was the one who started it all. Charlene secured grant funding to start a program interviewing long-time residents of Fort Collins. Aided by members of the Fort Collins Historical Society and her personal connections, Charlene assembled and organized an amazing resource of thousands of photos and she wrote many historical articles for local news as well as her book Streets of Fort Collins. Charlene’s work can still be seen all over the Archive today. The Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery considers her a patron saint, as she spent years of her life collecting histories that continue to tell the story of Fort Collins.

 

Leonore (Nora) Rice Miller (1868-1959)

Leonore came to Fort Collins in 1893 and taught 6th and 7th grade at the Old Franklin School. But Nora had attended Michigan Medical School for two years, and, after a brief hiatus,  finished out her medical degree at the University of Colorado Medical School. She started her Fort Collins medical practice in 1908. At that time, automobiles had not come into common use, so Dr. Miller often traveled long distances by horse-drawn buggy to reach her patients. Much of her practice consisted of maternity cases, at a time when most babies were born at home rather than in a hospital.

The shortage of school teachers during WWII called her back to her earlier profession, and 1942 found her teaching physics, math and engineering at a high school in Montana.  She retired from teaching in 1949; died in 1959; and is buried in Grandview Cemetery. Although Nora transitioned her practice to other areas and began to teach after WWII, she is noted as an ambitious and inspiring woman to those pursing and involved in the medical field.

 

Phyllis Rosabonheur Greene Mattingly (1916-2000)

Phyllis came to Fort Collins in 1949. After a stint hosting a talk show on KCOL, Phyllis became an internationally recognized handwriting analyst. How does a woman in the 1970s become a graphoanalyst? Mattingly got professional training at the University of Chicago. Using her professional skills, she verified and interpreted wills, diaries and other documents, including – one of Adolf Hitler’s. She used her expertise in such varied areas as custody cases, pre-marriage compatibility consultations, and hiring decisions.

She taught handwriting analysis in Australia, lectured to the United Kingdom Chapter of Graphoanalysis, was included in the 1988 and 1989 editions of Who’s Who of the World’s Professional Women, and in 1987 was the International Graphoanalyst of the Year. The prosecution in the O.J. Simpson trial hired her to analyze handwriting of witnesses. She told them not to use Mark Fuhrman, but they did anyway, and he turned out to be an unreliable witness. Mattingly’s other claim to fame was as Fort Collins’ Welcome Lady. She brought newcomers gifts, coupons, and information about the town. She supported many diverse FoCo institutions like the symphony, the library, the Christian Science Church, the Women’s Choral Group, the local AARP chapter, and Easter Seals.

These women, and many more, have made history for being who they were. They are remembered for their accomplishments, as well as for the historical impact they have made on Fort Collins. Happy #WomensHistoryMonth!

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New Fishes!

Post written by Alexa Leinaweaver, Live Animal Husbandry Coordinator.

New Fishes!

We have new fishes in our Animals Encounter Exhibit at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery!

Our fish are all from the Cache le Poudre River watershed and are indigenous species. The American Fisheries Society (AFS) at the Warner College of Natural Resources, part of CSU, has partnered with FCMoD to provide us with native Colorado plains fish species.

Come visit the museum to see our new fishes!

The species now living in our tank are:

  • Creek Chub (Semotilus atromaculatus)
  • Fathead Minnow (Pimephales promelas)
  • Longnose Dace (Rhinichthys cataractae)
  • Johnny Darter (Etheostoma nigrum)
  • Common Shiner (Luxilus cornutus)

Members of the American Fisheries Society sample the Poudre River watershed for fish.

Photo by Sandra Hargraves

 

Members of the American Fisheries Society sample the Poudre River watershed for fish.

Photo by Sandra Hargraves

Johnny Darter

 

Common Shiner

Common Shiner

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Taming of the Show: Processing a Local Fort Collins Theatre Collection

Post written by Carly Boerrigter, History Graduate Student at Colorado State University, Fall 2018 Intern at FCMoD

Taming of the Show: Processing a Local Fort Collins Theatre Collection

This past December, I had the pleasure of visiting England and seeing a live performance of Macbeth at the Barbican Theater in London. The whole evening was at the beckoning of my partner who has been a longtime fan of Shakespeare.

However, for me, seeing Shakespeare performed live in front of me was colored by my own experiences with plays, not performing in them, but examining them in the Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

I was thinking of the tireless costume design, the sound bites running in the background, the director’s notes that surely filled the margins of the script, the artists involved in creating the play’s poster, and the photographer who surreptitiously had to take photos of the performance unfolding.

I was analyzing these seemingly minute aspects of the play, first of all because Shakespeare continues to boggle me and more importantly because for the past three months, I helped inventory a collection of documents from a local Fort Collins theatre company, OpenStage Theatre. In 1973, Bruce and Denise Freestone started OpenStage, which still performs in the local area today. In OpenStage Theatre’s almost 50 years of existence, it has put on plays by Arthur Miller, Oscar Wilde, Lillian Hellman, as well as- other local playwrights. Further, the Freestones kept intricate records of all of the 206 plays that OpenStage Theatre performed from 1973 to 2007. These records consist of almost every paper document relating to all 206 plays, as well as – countless financial and accounting documents, meeting minutes, notes to staff, membership information, and a gun (a fake gun, that I realized was a prop, but not after jumping away from it as I saw it laying innocently among newspaper clippings).

Where does one even begin to make some sort of organizational sense with a collection like this?

I started big ­– with the MPLP (more product, less process) mentality, currently popular among archivists. To give you an idea, I opened up every box of those 102 boxes and wrote notes to myself about what exactly each box contained. Scripts? Receipts? Season ticket renewals? Meeting minutes from 1975? Donations? Grant applications? I took brief notes because the contents of those boxes ran the gamut.

A typical note to myself can be seen below

Here are a few of the 102 boxes with their notes tagged on them

 

Generally from here, the archivist would find some sort of organizational pattern amongst the chaos. For instance, for OpenStages’s collection, all documents fell into two major categories: documents pertaining to the plays or office files.

For the majority of my time at FCMoD, I focused on the actual documents surrounding the productions. These records consisted of hand drawn set and costume designs, photographs of actors applying makeup backstage and engaging in rousing sword fights on stage, unique and moving posters advertising productions to the public, playbills given to audience members, newspaper clippings advertising and commenting on performances, and much more.

By the end of my internship, I presented the Curator of the Archive, Lesley Struc, with about 15 boxes of neatly organized archival file folders, which all corresponded to one of the 206 plays performed between 1973 and 2007. Below, you can see an image of a before and after photo of a box of slides that I processed.

Before

After

Now, when OpenStage begins the preliminary planning stages of their 50th anniversary, a researcher can visit the Archive at FCMoD and find a host of unique items that OpenStage Theatre produced, from costume and set designs for the Children’s Hour, to the newspaper clippings of Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, to the intricate and textured orange poster for Carmen – a trove of organized treasures awaits them.

Research and commemorations would not be possible without the tireless work of archivists and I am happy that I was able to make the Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery a little more accessible, just in time for the 50th anniversary OpenStage festivities to begin.

Photos courtesy of Carly Boerrigter.

Thank YOU, Carly, for being an awesome FCMoD intern! We so appreciate your hard work and our community is grateful for the work you’ve done to make local history accessible to all.

Interested in interning at FCMoD? Check out opportunities under the “Internships” section of this page.

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Interview with Write Minded’s Guitarist, Forrester

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing & Design Assistant. 

Interview with Write Minded’s Guitarist (& FCMoD Employee), Forrester

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery was thrilled to interview local musician and Music & Sound Lab employee, Forrester Tamkun. Forrester, a Colorado native, is the guitarist for local band Write Minded. Based out of Fort Collins, CO, Write Minded features a unique mixture of hip hop, rock, reggae, funk, and soul. Write Minded pushes the confining boundaries of genres to bring Northern Colorado something new.

Forrester sat down with staff for an interview to talk about the music scene and FCMoD. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your connection to FCMoD.

I am a music assistant at FCMoD. I help in the Music & Sound Lab with programs, exhibit care and maintenance, and program development. I became a volunteer with the museum when I was… about 6? So I have been with the museum for almost 20 years.

  1. When did you first discover a passion for music?

I started playing piano around the same time when I started volunteering at the museum, so around 6. I pretty much always had a passion for music. In junior high school I started to play with bands and learn cover songs and play concerts and battle of the bands. Then when I was 14 I started playing guitar. I continued to play in some bands during high school, and after high school is when I got more serious about music. My first concert was at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery Heritage Courtyard. It’s great that the museum has been involved in my music career through multiple events over the years. As an Eagle Scout I helped organize six local bands to play at a concert in the museum’s Heritage Courtyard in awareness of suicide prevention.

  1. What instrument do you play and what drew you to that instrument?

I primarily play guitar, and also a little piano. I like the piano because it is an expressive instrument. When you play a note on the piano it is different than with a guitar. With a guitar you can slide, bend, or do vibrato with the string, whereas with piano it is one note and one dynamic. Guitar is challenging, and I like that. I was self-taught in guitar for the first 5-6 years, and then I took my first guitar lesson when I was 20.

  1. Can you please describe your typical day at the museum?

A typical day at the museum for me consists of running different music programs, such as those hosted in the Music Garage. I instruct kids in mini-lessons, as well as maintain the area, and make sure none of the instruments are broken. (No guitars smashing at the museum, please.) My responsibilities include keeping an eye on the Music & Sound Lab exhibit, maintaining supplies, fixing exhibits when they break, giving Reactable lessons, and providing pop-up lessons.

  1. Tell us about how Write Minded started as a band.

I met Jarod, our bassist, the first day he moved to Fort Collins and came with his family to the museum. He came into the Music Garage and his roommate and him started jamming with me. From there I got his number, but didn’t hear from him for a few weeks. When we finally connected the next thing I knew we started the band- Eye Above right away. That was the initial creation of Write Minded. Write Minded started out of three different groups – a band I was previously in called Eye Above, the newly formed Write Minded cohort, and then an additional keyboardist. The original band was an acoustic rap with djembe. The keyboardist, Wilson, joined and I knew a drummer from high school that we approached about joining the band too. Once we all got together we were offered a show – opening at the Aggie. Then we ended up getting invited to play a Colorado band showcase at SXSW in Austin, TX. The rest is history.

  1. How has FCMoD developed a creative and open space for music?

Oh boy, having the space we do, it’s awesome. Our Music & Sound Lab exhibit allows the public hands-on access to real instruments. On Thursday nights we have Musician Meetup, which is an open jam session for musicians of all skill levels. It’s great – participants bring their own instrument and receive free general admission. People show up and play music together, and volunteers help facilitate it. The open exhibit gallery space offers a comfortable environment. And the program is free, which is important. So many spaces created for jamming together throughout town can be intimidating and scary, especially if you’re alone and just getting started. Ours is facilitated, and we do our best make it as welcoming as possible for everyone. It’s cool seeing younger kids have that opportunity.

“It’s cool seeing younger kids have that opportunity.”

  1. Who is your favorite band or artist? How have they inspired you?

If I had to pick one, I’d have to say Umphrey’s McGee. They’ve been playing for about twenty years and are a total jam band from the Chicago area that regularly plays at Red Rock Amphitheater. They have progressive rock influences. Their guitarist is one of my favorites to see and experience. How they connect and vibe as a band is cool. I’m a jam band fan. They have head signals to improvise like crazy. They are really into their art and connecting with their fans – which I think is important. I think I see them perform twice a year.

  1. What’s the hardest thing to describe about being a musician?

Any art form requires perseverance and confidence. You will never be able to get better at a task if you don’t believe you can. Confidence is key, especially when it comes to performing. You have to have perseverance in the art form and remember there are certain things that take years to develop.

  1. What role would you like to see museums like FCMoD play in helping encourage and support an artistic community?

I think we do everything pretty well. But there is always more that can be done. We can look for ways to plug in with other groups in the community promoting local music, like the Music District. We do so many music programs and events, from live music in the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater, to our  LaserDome series, to Musician Meetup, to providing hands-on instruments in our Music & Sound Lab exhibit, and more. Plus FCMoD is a venue for music festivals in town, like FoCoMX. Providing feedback on how else the museum can get involved is welcome.

  1. What is your favorite part about working at FCMoD?

It’s great getting to be involved in the music programs and exhibits so much, since that’s where my passion lies. I really like the family vibe that not only the staff, but community has. Being at FCMoD every week, you really see the community connection. Walking through the doors you see community members from local bands, City Council members, regularly visiting museum members, and more. You get to see and experience the big picture of our community. It takes a bunch of people contributing their time, talents and more to create spaces like FCMoD. It’s really cool getting to meet everyone.

“Any art form requires perseverance and confidence.”

Thank you to Forrester for his time and for sharing his skills at FCMoD!

To find out more about Forrester’s band, Write Minded, and hear more from local musicians follow: www.writemindedmusic.com. Write Minded will also be performing, January 25th at Hodi’s Half-note with new music coming soon!

Image Credit: Daryl Love

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Birds in the Big Backyard!

Post written by Alexa Leinaweaver, Live Animal Husbandry Coordinator.

Birds in the Big Backyard!

Happy National Bird Day!

National Bird Day in the United States has been celebrated every January 5 since 2002, honoring and bringing attention to our native, wild birds. Nearly 12% of the 9,800 species of birds are endangered or threatened, often by human behavior or structures. Humans take over and change the habitats birds need to survive and find food.

Birds are a kind of animal that has evolved for flight from a group of dinosaurs called theropods (which includes Tyrannosaurus Rex). They have a skeleton that is strong and lightweight; they have a beak instead of teeth (which are heavy); they have feathers and wings; and they lay eggs. Some species of bird have lost the ability to fly and now run, jump, or swim – but they all have the same original adaptations. Birds can vary tremendously in size, from the bee hummingbird (the smallest at only 2 inches!) to the ostrich (the biggest at 9 feet tall!). Birds live on every continent in the world.

This year for National Bird Day, take some time to watch and appreciate the wild birds living around us. In addition to being beautiful, they are useful as well: they pollinate plants, spread seeds, and some of them even clean up dead animals. If you don’t have a good spot near where you live or work, come by Fort Collins Museum of Discovery (FCMoD) and spend some time in our Big Back Yard. We have many birds that live here that you can enjoy watching.

Tips for bird-watching:

  1. Where can you watch birds? Nearly anywhere! You can find birds in any open green space or water. At FCMOD, we have many bird feeders in the Big Back Yard that attract a lot of birds. Our local birds know that we provide a reliable source of food and there are almost always avian visitors.
  2. Look around in every direction. Look at the ground, under bushes, up in trees, or soaring in the sky. Birds can be anywhere! Also listen. You may hear birds that you can’t see.
  3. Learn about different kinds of birds so you can figure out what you are seeing. Different species can be distinguished in many ways – color and pattern; size and shape; song; behavior; habitat. When you are looking at a bird, try to notice as much detail as you can. Is it bigger or smaller than a common bird you know, like the American Robin? Are you in woodlands or by a lake? What is the bird doing?
  4. Be quiet and move slowly when you’re watching birds. Birds get easily startled by loud noises or sudden movements, and will fly away to safety. Birds also hear better than humans do.
  5. Be patient! If you are still and quiet for a little while, birds will eventually move from cover into a space where you can see them better.
  6. Try pishing. Pishing is a small, squeaking noise that you can make by either kissing the back of your hand, or whistling the word “pish” through your closed teeth. Small birds may be attracted by the sound.

Equipment that might help:

  1. A good pair of binoculars. You will enjoy looking at birds much more if you can see them up close! We have some binoculars you can use at FCMOD.
  2. Bird Identification Guide. There are many excellent books and websites, as well as bird ID apps for your phone.
  3. Put up a bird feeder by your home. At the museum we have many feeders with a wide variety of food types, as different species of birds eat different things. Different bird foods include sunflower seeds, suet, hummingbird nectar (sugar water), millet, thistle seeds, and fruit.

Remember to always be respectful of both wildlife and other people when you’re out birdwatching.

Check out the American Birding Association Code of Ethics for guidelines. And thank you to Wild Birds Unlimited for their support of our Big Backyard birds!

Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata)

Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura)

Black Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)

Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)

Photos courtesy of Alexa Leinaweaver.

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All About Animals!

Post written by Alexa Leinaweaver, Live Animal Husbandry Coordinator.

All About Animals!

Saturday, Dec. 15, animals are taking over all of Fort Collins Museum of Discovery! Come to the museum and learn more about all of these amazing creatures at Museum Takeover: Animals. 

 

What do we mean when we are talking about animals?

What do you picture when you hear the word “animal”? Some people think of living things that move, but that are separate from human beings. Some imagine the specific kind of animal they know best, such as a pet.

“Animal” actually refers to a large family of living things that are related to each other and share similar characteristics – including humans. We are still discovering new species of animals in the world, so we don’t know exactly how many there are. However, scientists estimate there are around 1.2 million different kinds of animals!

All animals are multicellular; have to eat food of some kind rather than generating it themselves; breathe oxygen; and are able to move themselves around (motile). Animals are generally bilaterally symmetrical, and most animals have specialized tissue, or organs, in their bodies.

 

How scientists differentiate between different kinds of animals:

There’s a lot of variety in kinds of animals in the world. Scientists have come up with many different ways to distinguish one species from another. Some of these techniques include: What does the animal look like (size, color, number of legs, etc.)? Where does it live (on land or in water)? What does it eat? What kind of structures or organs does it have in its body? Try and think of some other ways you could tell different animals apart.

 

Of the estimated 1.2 million different species, 80% of them are arthropods! This group includes spiders and insects. There are also approximately 32,000 different kinds of fishes. Mammals, which we may think of first when we hear “animal,” have some 6,000 different kinds. Humans, dogs, and cats are all mammals.

You may have heard about the difference between vertebrate and invertebrate animals. Vertebrates (like humans) have an internal skeleton, whereas invertebrates do not. Many invertebrates have what is called an exoskeleton, and they have a rigid shell on their outside that has to be shed as the animal grows. Some animals (like jellyfish) have no skeletal structure at all!

Animals have several different ways of obtaining food, and scientists can classify animals by how they eat. Predators kill and eat a prey species – imagine a wolf pack hunting and eating an elk. Parasites feed on their prey species without killing it. Herbivores (animals that eat only plant matter) are actually defined as a parasite. Imagine an elk eating grass, or a tick sucking blood from that elk: both are parasites. Finally there are detritivores, who eat bits of decomposing organic matter. Many insects, such as roaches or millipedes, will eat this way.

 

Extreme animals:

  • Biggest (by weight): Blue whale
  • Tallest: giraffe
  • Longest: Bootlace worm
  • Fastest: Peregrine falcon
  • Most poisonous: Poison dart frog
  • Most venomous: Box jellyfish
  • Best vision: Bald eagle
  • Able to see the most colors: Mantis shrimp
  • Most Deadly (non-human): Mosquitos

 

Animals at the museum:

The museum has several animals on display in the Animal Experience, but they all come from just two families: Arthropods (insects, arachnids, etc.) and Chordates (amphibians, reptiles, mammals, etc.).  Take a moment to compare the different kinds of animals we have. How do they move differently? Do they have an internal skeleton or an exoskeleton? Each of our animals requires different kinds of food, as some are predators, some are parasites, and some are detritivores. See if you can guess which is which! What else do you observe about the FCMOD animals?

Animals in your own life:

Take some time to appreciate the animals you see every day! If you have a pet, take good care of them and show them some love. Come to the museum and see our more unusual critters, and sign up for one of our animal programs. Or, take a walk outside and enjoy spotting some animals in the wild.

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Time Travel: 1950s – 1980s

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing & Design Assistant. 

Time Travel: 1950s – 1980s

Have you ever wanted to travel back in time? In our latest blog we travel back to the historic decades of Fort Collins. We will start in 1910 and travel up to 1980. Join us as we scavenge the local history of our town.

 

1950s: Reformation

The need for reform in Fort Collins’ city government had been a local topic since the late 1940s. Voter reluctance to change the structure of the local government led city officials to move the city toward a more efficient system by using special powers, as with the placement of Guy Palmes as city manager in 1949. This movement necessitated a revision to the city charter. To this end the local chapter of the National League of Women Voters, formed in 1951, supported an analysis of the government, an updated charter, and voter education to convince the public. The effort was rewarded when, on October 5, 1954, a new city charter was adopted by special election.

Under the council-manager form of government, the City Manager was given administration of the city. He was hired and fired by the city council, attended council meetings, but had no vote. The mayor was chosen by the council, did not have the discretionary powers a mayor in the council-mayor form had, and authority for decision-making resided in the council.

In 1952 the local streetcar system became the last such operation in Colorado to end its services. The trolley had been costing the city money for several years and the cars were not in good condition. The establishment of an independent bus company in Fort Collins in June 1951 made the loss easier for local commuters. However, Bussard Bus Company’s Fort Collins operation did not match the trolley’s longevity. It ended its services in December, 1955.

 

1960s: Migration

The 1960s were turbulent years in Fort Collins. National unrest over the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement was reflected locally, especially on the Colorado State University campus. These crises combined with amazing growth in the city’s size and population, made the 1960s an unsettled period in Fort Collins history.

Rapidly increasing enrollment led to a building boom on the CSU campus. 7,304 students were enrolled at the University during the 1962-63 academic year. The figure grew to 15,361 in the 1968-69 year and plans were made to provide facilities for 25,000 students in the 1970s. Three new structures were built during the 1960s: Morgan Library, Moby Gym, and Hughes Stadium. In 1968, CSU became a member of the Western Athletic Conference and dedicated the new 30,000-seat Hughes Stadium to legendary coach Harry Hughes.

The social consciousness of the 1960s found expression through a variety of organizations and activities. One of these was the Peace Corps, which began with a feasibility study conducted at CSU in 1960. Maurice Albertson, an engineering professor who directed the University’s international programs office, was responsible for obtaining the grant for the study. By 1966, over 15,000 Peace Corps volunteer workers were scattered throughout the world.

 

1970s: Designing tomorrow

Campus unrest over civil rights issues and the Vietnam War continued at CSU in the 1970s. The alleged racist practices of Brigham Young University were a relatively volatile issue. While CSU’s administration refused to cancel a basketball game with BYU in January 1970, it did reluctantly allow a peaceful demonstration prior to the game. The demonstration proceeded as planned with no problems. However, during halftime, a group of predominantly black protesters rushed onto the floor of Moby Gym, fists held high in the “Black Power” salute. The protesters were slow to leave the floor and Fort Collins police were called on to clear the area. A student protest on a less serious matter occurred in April 1975. University administrators were reluctant to allow a Rolling Stones concert at Hughes Stadium that summer. The protest was relatively small, and the band was allowed to play. Traffic jams and discarded beer cans were the only adverse consequences.

The growth of Fort Collins between 1950 and 1970 completely changed the city. A new organization was founded in 1970 to help Fort Collins residents cope with rapid changes and to develop comprehensive long-range planning. Under Mayor Karl Carson’s initiative, a committee called “Planned Development for Quality” (PDQ), was formed. The name was later changed to “Designing Tomorrow Today” or “DT squared.”

“Design tomorrow today.”

In October 1970, DT reported projections up to the year 2000 concerning housing, transportation, education, employment, utilities, recreation, and social services. Task forces developed plans for public facilities and projects. On January 4, 1973, DT included: A new City Library; the Lincoln Community Center; Poudre River Parkway; land use planning and growth control; Transfort and Care-a-Van transportation systems; new parks; federally subsidized low income housing projects; sewer lines to Alta Vista and Andersonville; and restoration of the Avery House.

A popular park developed during the 1970s was the Lee Martinez Park, bordering the south bank of the Poudre River, west of the College Avenue bridge. The park was named after Librado “Lee” Martinez, a Fort Collins resident from 1906 until his death in 1970. Martinez was very active in community affairs. Shopping malls appeared in Fort Collins in the 1970s. The malls changed the face of the city and ended the downtown area’s dominance retail business. The major malls built during the decade were Foothills Fashion Mall, University Mall, and The Square, all off South College Avenue.

 

1980s: Growth

City planning continued as a major concern of the city of Fort Collins in the 1980s. Unincorporated border areas were a special problem. These areas often developed in ways inconsistent with standards established by the City, which created problems when these areas were annexed. To obtain some control over this development and avoid inefficient urban sprawl, the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland, joined by Larimer County, instituted the Urban Growth Area Plan in 1980. This plan designated a growth area boundary to accommodate expected development, provided guidelines for development within the boundary, established zoning regulations for development in the growth area, and contained an agreement which assured that land would be annexed by the appropriate adjacent city.

The development and restoration of downtown Fort Collins, a consideration begun in the 1970s, continued in the 1980s. In March 1981, voters created the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), made up of downtown property owners. Its board included one city council member. Their initial concerns were for parking and the undergrounding of utilities. The DDA supported projects with money from a five-mill tax levy in the DDA district and from tax revenue generated by new development. Projects the DDA has completed or supported included the parking garage on Mountain Avenue near Old Town and Old Town Square on Linden. Mitchell and Company of Denver revealed plans in 1981 for turning Old Town into a viable business district. 200,000 square feet of business space was included in the project, which sought to preserve historic buildings and build new structures compatible with them.

Increased growth was blamed, in part, for a two-thirds increase in felony crimes in Fort Collins between 1978 and 1981. One crime in Fort Collins that received worldwide attention in 1981 was the conviction of Eugene A. Tafoya for third-degree assault and conspiracy to commit third-degree assault. He had been charged with first-degree attempted murder and conspiracy. Investigators suspected that Tafoya had been hired by a former CIA agent to kill Faisal A. Zagallai, a Libyan dissident who had been critical of Mohammar Khadafy. However, there was not enough evidence to connect Tafoya with the agent.

 

To discover more about the decades and history of Fort Collins check out Fort Collins History Connection, the online collaboration between FCMoD and the Poudre River Public Library District: history.fcgov.com.

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