Archive for August, 2011

My Last Post

I am sad to say that this will be my last post for the Fernbank blog. After three months of interning, my time at the Museum is coming to a close. I began working at Fernbank to complete my degree requirements after graduating from Georgia College & State University in May. Although I am very glad to have finally received my diploma, the experience and knowledge I have gained from my internship have been just as worthwhile.

Much of my time working as an intern at Fernbank has been assisting the Marketing and Communications department. I have assisted at a lot of fun events such as Pirate & Princess Days, Superhero Day and Wizards & Wands Weekend.

I have helped update the social media sites such as this blog, our Facebook page, our Twitter feed and our Flickr account.

Although some days I was doing typical intern duties such as making copies or running errands, I feel very privileged about the change to assist an important department. I learned a lot about museums and how they are run and gained a new passion and interest in them.

Some of my favorite moments have been at the events—it is so much fun and so rewarding to watch children and their families enjoy and get excited about the things we have going on here at the Museum.

I’m glad to know my work has been worthwhile and that I have been able to put my degree in Mass Communication to good use! Although I am sad to say “goodbye” to Fernbank, I am excited about what is ahead! I am currently working a part-time job as I get ready to start a seasonal position and continue my search for an opportunity to engage my passion for nonprofit organizations and international humanitarian projects!

-Amanda Boddy, Marketing & Communications Intern (Summer 2011)

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in learning more about Fernbank’s internship program, visit us online.

August 30, 2011 at 8:45 am 1 comment

A Decade of Delight

While the party took place August 20-21, 2011, today marks the official 10th anniversary of the grand opening of Giants of the Mesozoic. Inspired not only by presenting history, but also with making history, from January 2000 through August 2001, Fernbank Museum pieced together—drawing by drawing, then bone by bone—this permanent exhibition featuring the world’s largest dinosaurs.

There’s a lot of history crammed into those 10 years since opening day, more than we could possible contain in one blog post. So, we’ll let our pictures tell the story of bringing these mighty Mesozoic stars to Fernbank Museum.

Conceptual Drawing

Argentinosaurus Dig Site

Paleontologist Rodolfo Coria

Did you know? The first Dinosaur Birthday Bash, offered in celebration of the one-year anniversary of Giants of the Mesozoic, was held August 24-25, 2002. The event has been offered every year in August since then and has become one of the Museum’s most popular family activity days.

Work in progress

Did you know? Fernbank Museum was the first museum in the world to erect a fully-mounted skeleton of Argentinosaurus.

Work on the rear legs of Argentinosaurus.

Work on Giganotosaurus.

My, what big teeth he has.

Did you know? Construction on Argentinosaurus was briefly halted on March 1, 2001 for President George W. Bush to hold a tax-plan rally at Museum.

Presidential visit

Completed Argentinosaurus

Fernbank Museum President and CEO Susan Neugent speaking at ribbon cutting ceremony, August 25, 2001.

Did you know? During the dedication of Giants of the Mesozoic, a time capsule was placed in the rockwork base beneath Argentinosaurus. It contains items related to the exhibition, including early conceptual, a copy of the WSB-TV documentary Land of the Giants and a collection of media coverage documenting the worldwide attention Fernbank received as a result of the exhibition.

Postcard from early advertising campaign.

Cover of Fall 2001 Museum Newsletter

Did you know? Professor Rodolfo Coria, the paleontologist who excavated and researched Argentinosaurus (and Giganotosaurus) had not seen a fully-mounted skeleton until the construction at Fernbank was completed. When asked how it felt to see the completed project, he responded “Like seeing an old friend, whose face you haven’t seen in a long, long time.

Giants of the Mesozoic

Do you have a Giants of the Mesozoic memory or photo to share? Send it to or post on our Facebook page.

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing

August 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment

A Knight in Designing Armor Brings Dinosaurs Back from Extinction

It’s not every day that fashion and natural history collide, but when they do, nature’s brightest colors bloom, dinosaurs seem to envy the long arms of models draped in delicate fabric, and designers covet the fashionable frills and unique lines of some of the most imaginatively “figured” creatures to ever roam the earth.

(L-R) Brandi Berry and Mychael Knight stop for a quick pose while the fashion-inspiring "Giganotosaurus" waits patienly in the backgroun for his turn in the spotlight.

It was a different start to the day for a PR director who is more accustomed to hanging with fascinating scientists, IMAX filmmakers, curators, educators and registrars, yet I felt a ping of delight as I recently stood beneath the Giants of the Mesozoic dinosaurs for a another type of prehistoric moment.

Fernbank was hosting Project Runway finalist Mychael Knight at a photo shoot for the cover of The Atlantan magazine’s fall fashion issue. While I couldn’t resist being a fan, I was equally excited at the opportunity to show just how inspiring natural history—and especially dinosaurs—can be.

Knight will present his new collection, “Lost World,” at New York Fashion Week in September, featuring some incredible designs inspired by the types of captivating encounters that millions of visitors have experienced with dinosaurs at Fernbank. He said he visits Fernbank at least once a year and has always found it inspiring. In fact, it was while watching one of the Jurassic Park movies that his creative eye began to appreciate just how uniquely tailored these prehistoric creatures are. To my delight, he also said that while designing this collection, he would envision the “Lost World” fashions walking the runway beneath the world’s largest dinosaurs at Fernbank.

I got to catch a quick glimpse of one of the dresses at the photo shoot, revealing the many ways a visit to Fernbank can evoke an imaginative response to the artistry of nature. If you loved Mychael Knight on Project Runway, you’ll love him even more now that he has some Mesozoic flair. His new line is truly a unique display of the power and authority of dinosaurs. How will they inspire you?

Brandi Berry, Director of Public Relations

August 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm Leave a comment

Giving New Meaning to Family FUN

Emilly, working at the archaeology cart.

We have FUN at Fernbank. Literally. We have a group of about 60 youth volunteers that are members of the FUN (Fernbank Ultimate Naturalist) guild. Of those sixty volunteers, you might notice 3 seem to have a lot in common (beyond those bright blue t-shirts).

Meet the Bunce Girls, or as I like to see it, the closest Fernbank will ever get to a girl band: Leslie (17), Emily (15) and Shellie (12). All are members of FUN and are daughters of Fernbank’s Human Resources Coordinator, Lisa Bunce.

The girls transitioned into the FUN program after they outgrew Fernbank’s summer camp. They all started out attending Fernbank’s summer camp and shortly after they outgrew that program, they became FUN volunteers.

And no, Lisa didn’t make them become FUN volunteers (really, I asked). “I did encourage them to join [FUN], but no. I didn’t make them. They all loved summer camp so much and the museum in general, it just made sense for them to continue to be involved.”

Like all FUN volunteers, the girls support the Museum in a variety of roles – from providing critical support during busy Museum event days, to providing one-on-one learning opportunities for guests at one of 3 science-themed carts.

Shellie, as the youngest, is the most recent to join FUN (this is her first summer in this role), but is quickly catching on. At least, when she has a chance to talk. When I asked Shellie what her favorite part about being a FUN volunteer was, older sister Leslie jokingly answered “Not working with her sisters, so she has a chance to talk.” (Note: Shellie did not disagree with that comment.)

Leslie (left) and Shellie (right) took time from working a cart to pose with Giggy.

While this is Shellie’s first summer, it will also be Leslie’s last. She will be a senior in high school this year and will (for lack of a better phrase) outgrow FUN.

Emily plans to continue with the program as long as she can. “It looks good on a college application,” she said with a grin.

When not FUN-ning it up at Fernbank, Leslie enjoys being a member of her school’s color guard with the marching band. Emily enjoys reading and hanging out with friends. Shellie likes to spend her free time reading and writing. (Perhaps we can get her to author a future blog post?)

For Lisa, almost every summer day is a “bring your daughter(s) to work day.” But she doesn’t mind. “They’re good kids. I don’t worry about them,” she said.  And she shouldn’t.

“They are all dependable, reliable, and fun to be around. And through the course of the program, they have been able to help with extra programs,” remarked FUN program supervisor Kristy Richardson.

All comments I can agree on. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Leslie and Emily at event days, and most recently helping to stuff the 5,000+ eggs for last April’s Dinosaur Egg Hunt. And I was able to get to know Shellie while she was attending summer camp over the years. I can tell you, they are fun—in every sense of the word.

We will begin accepting applications for the 2012 FUN program next spring. To receive a notification when that process begins, be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter.

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing

August 16, 2011 at 9:25 am Leave a comment

Darwin: The Evolution of a Marketing Campaign

Charles Darwin evokes quite a response. From scientists who champion his decades of research as the cornerstone of modern biology, to those who feel his theory of evolution conflicts with personal and religious beliefs;  the reaction to Charles Darwin has become synonymous with controversy.

No doubt, the topic will generate public response when Fernbank Museum opens the new special exhibition Darwin on September 24, 2011. We want to reveal that there’s much more to the man behind the science than most realize. To illustrate this, we are launching an innovative marketing campaign: Charles Darwin Has A Posse.

Key to the campaign is artwork inspired by evolutionary biologist Colin Purrington, that mirrors the early 90s street art campaign Andre the Giant Has a Posse that later morphed into the OBEY campaign. To this day that campaign remains one of the most successful guerilla marketing campaigns of all time. Fernbank is putting its own twist on the artwork, adding bright colors and pairing visits from a colorful finch to his hat or a bright orchid to his lapel, breaking down a serious topic to show there’s something fascinating for everyone to explore in the exhibition.

Our intention is to present the life of Charles Darwin with a somewhat unexpected twist and the Charles Darwin has a Posse artwork reflects that break from the expected.  We want to inspire discussion and generate interest around science in a manner that feels approachable and fun yet also reveal there’s much to learn about Charles Darwin beyond the term “natural selection.”

For someone so famous, Charles Darwin remains a mystery to most. Fernbank seeks to inspire people to learn more about the path of a scientist, the fundamental role Darwin’s theory of evolution has in helping modern scientists cure diseases and make other advancements, and the joy of observation and discovery in the natural world. Part of the marketing strategy involves piquing the interest of people who may not realize they are soon to be fascinated by Charles Darwin—by reaching out to them in coffee houses, bars, through a partnership with Team Trivia and special trivia nights at the Museum. Darwin will also take to Twitter (@darwinposse) with facts, fiction and fun—certainly an evolution of communication he would have never imagined!

We hope to see you at the Museum soon and hope that the exhibition, and the artwork, stirs up conversation by sparking your curiosity and bringing out your “inner scientist.” And hopefully, to inspire all of us to have a greater appreciation for our planet and its people.

—Jules Dykes, Vice President of Marketing & Communications

August 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm 3 comments

Staring at the Floors

As education interns at the Museum, Reid and I have many jobs.  Our main job is to train the FUN (Fernbank Ultimate Naturalist) volunteers on “carts.” These carts contain items that are used to provide additional education for the Museum visitors. We have three carts that the FUN volunteers manage: fossils, shells and archaeology, but the fossil cart is by far my favorite.

The fossil cart is designed to allow the visitors hands-on experiences with models of the fossils found in our tiled floors, and to allow for hands-on experiences with some models of dinosaur teeth and eggs—which go with our dino skeletons. Its purpose is to get people looking up at the ceiling and down at the floor. I enjoy it so much that sometimes I get overzealous and jump in when I should let the volunteers do the talking…Whoops. The expressions on young visitors’ faces when I tell them that the tiled floors have real, yes, real, fossils are priceless. Their eyes get big, their mouths open, and they immediately stop looking at me and start looking at the very floor on which we’re standing. It’s hard to believe what they are seeing is real, but I’m always happy to report that the fossils indeed are real, and no, we did not create these tiles on our own. I am as amazed as they are, even after working here for most of the summer!

I know it sounds silly, to say that staring at the floor has suddenly become socially acceptable, but really, if you were standing on 150 million-year-old German sea floor, wouldn’t you be looking down too? In fact, the tiles aren’t the only thing I would encourage looking down for; my favorite thing in Fernbank NatureQuest is on the floor too. If you look carefully throughout the exhibit, you’ll find a surprise: the floor has animal tracks all over! Even as a Museum intern, I enjoy tracking the animals as if they were real.

So no, it isn’t silly to walk around with your head down, staring intently at the floors, because, let’s face it, the floors are worth it.

—By Annaliese Ashley FUN Summer Intern

August 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm Leave a comment

A FUN Summer, Where Interns (dino)SAUR!

I think the best way to begin talking about my internship experience is to quote my advisor, Kristy Richardson, as she once put it: “Here at Fernbank, all the employees wear a lot of hats.” I’ve been lucky enough to have had an extraordinary opportunity this summer working within the education department as the FUN volunteer program intern.

While when I first started I thought I would be working with mostly the FUN volunteers, but I quickly learned that as an intern at Fernbank I too wear many different hats. I could show up to work tomorrow  and do so much as train a FUN volunteer in the morning, update volunteer hours and present award ribbons, figure out the difference between a Whelk shell and a Conch shell, go on a nature walk and learn how to tell apart Umbrella, Sweetbayand Southern Magnolia trees, try to keep my cool while holding and feeding pythons that love to stare me down, or watch cardboard box superheroes dance to DJ Willy Wow while making hundreds of stick super heroes with googly eyes.

Did I know what I was interviewing for with this internship? Most definitely not! My summer has been quite a ride and I have loved every minute of it. It has been really exciting to be behind the scenes of a respectable museum of natural history like Fernbank and see how much work and dedication from the employees it takes to make memorable experiences for guests. The summer has seemed to fly by and the amount of material I have learned has been a dream come true.

My partner in crime Annaliese, who is also a FUN intern this summer, and I wear the FUN intern hat most of the time. The FUN volunteer program consists of 60 FUN volunteer ranging from middle school kids to seniors in high school. Each volunteer applies for a spot in the program by filling out an application that includes an essay section, teacher recommendations and an interview. In what has become a very competitive program, the applicants selected are then trained to volunteer with a number of different functions at the Museum. They are trained for working the fossil, archaeology and ocean shells science carts, assisting educators with animal encounters, helping kids learn more in Weekend Wonders and during other events. The FUN volunteers learn to interact with guests of all ages, as well as teach guests about the various scientific subjects found at Fernbank.

It has been a lot of fun training very shy and quiet FUN volunteers on their first day and seeing each FUN volunteer grow into an outgoing, confident and knowledgeable young adult. The FUN program does an exceptional job in teaching responsibility and confidence. I’ve had a great time working and building relationships with the volunteers and I would be lying if I said I haven’t learned something from them.

The internship has allowed me to learn a lot about how a big organization actually functions to teach natural history to its guests. The internship has opened me up to all the different methods Fernbank uses to teach about natural history from the information presented in exhibits, to the employees of Fernbank that work so hard to make every Museum guest walk away with a great experience, and learned a more about natural history. I could not have asked for a better summer internship.

—Reid Popple, FUN Summer Intern

{Editor’s note: Visit us online to learn more about Fernbank’s internship program.}

August 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm 1 comment


At Fernbank Museum, there’s much more than dinosaurs and giant-screen films. Even with our website, e-newsletters, Facebook pages and Twitter updates, there’s still a lot we’d like to share with you. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!