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Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Arts & Culture, Environment, Natural History & Natural Science Museums, Physical & Earth Sciences, Technology

Mission: Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is a world-class natural history museum dedicated to advancing research, education, and public engagement in biodiversity and environmental science.

Programs: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is America’s oldest natural history museum. The public museum is a top cultural attraction with nearly 200,000 visitors a year, including thousands of schoolchildren from the tri-state area. The most popular permanent exhibit is Discovering Dinosaurs, followed by Butterflies! (a live, tropical butterfly garden), Outside In (the children’s discovery center), the Live Animal Center, historic dioramas, changing exhibits, and the Art of Science Gallery. Since its founding, the Academy has played a leading role in biological research, discovering, identifying and describing plants and animals around the world. The Academy’s environmental researchers are working to restore the health of urban rivers and wetlands, control the spread of exotic species and reduce non-point source pollution. The collection of 17 million cataloged plant and animal specimens—many the first ever studied—comprises a comprehensive “library” of organisms that researchers around the world use to study issues such as climate change, water pollution, invasive species, evolution and extinction. The Ewell Sale Stewart Library is among the most important natural history libraries in the world, with 200,000 books—some dating to the 1500s—documenting understanding of the natural world from the very beginning of modern science. The Academy runs a robust education program which includes museum lessons for students, outreach presentations for schools and communities, auditorium shows for families, Head Start instruction for teachers, family field trips with Academy scientists, adults-only environmental workshops, and the acclaimed Women In Natural Sciences program for Philadelphia high school girls. The Center for Environmental Policy hosts a variety of mostly free public panel discussions and speaker presentations aimed at engaging a wide variety of constituents, promoting solutions, and building public and professional awareness of important environmental and sustainability issues. In 2011 the Academy affiliated with Drexel University, creating a nationally recognized powerhouse for discovery in the natural and environmental sciences.

Community Stories

15 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I took my grandson for his first visit. He just turned 3 and he couldn't wait to go. Watching him get excited over the dinosaurs was a big thrill. He liked all of the exhibits and even got to pet a turtle and rat and got to see the butterflys. I took my children when they were young and had a great time. We will be making many more visits since there is always something new to see especially through the eyes of a child.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a recent retiree, I relish the opportunity to devote my time in support of those who are helping to protect our planet. An important aspect of this is the research being done on the botanical environment as we know it today and as we have known it in prior generations. My responsibility as a volunteer is to help the Academy catalog its astonishing inventory of plant specimens. The work I do on day-to-day basis is not glamorous; it's fundamental and can be tedious. But as I enter data for each plant specimen, I feel honored to play even a small role in the continuum between what esteemed botanists have revealed over the past two centuries and the knowledge that we are gaining to help protect and preserve important botanical species.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been working with the staff of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia since 1995, with Dr. Goulden, Dr. Jon Gelhaus and others. At the time, we worked on an NSF-funded research project to study Lake Hovsgol in northern Mongolia. This was my first experience working with American scientists, and American institution for research/education. This great experience was intellectually rewarding and with the support and backing by the Academy's scientists, this collaborative effort only expanded. In 2002-2006, we worked together on a GEF-funded project and it served as a stepping stone in the career of many young scientists (not only Mongolian, but also international). The Hovsgol GEF project employed over 20 young individuals and most of them got doctorate positions in universities all over the world (USA, Japan, Germany, China etc), and some had already finished their degree (in USA, Russia, Japan). I know of many other international scientists who were in their early careers and finished their MSc, PhD degrees as a result of this joint effort. Dr. Goulden and Dr. Gelhaus both are still working in Mongolia. It started with an institute to study ecology and biodiversity in Mongolia, founded by Dr. Goulden and Dr. Gelhaus. Now it expanded into the Asia Center. This shows a great deal of perseverence not only on the scientists' part, but also on the part of the Academy's administration. What I know has started from the Academy and for this, I am always grateful.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Academy of NS is an awesome institution. They are in the business of spreading goodwill and knowledge about our world. Everyone who works there is interesting. Everyone works hard. They've been great role models for me.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at the Academy of Natural Sciences for four years now. I have always been interested in dinosaurs and prehistory. This museum offered the best in my field for someone who was not in college. This museum truly has the most passionate staff available. These people love what they do and it shows in the level of attention and enthusiasm they show to visitors. There is something for everyone. I have been in Dinosaur Hall my entire career, but I have met other volunteers that have also been trained in our historic library, or in the Patrick Center for Environmental Research. There isn't a science that isn't covered in this museum. I was worried that I wouldn't get to take part in the "important" aspects of the museum, like volunteering in the Paleo Prep lab, however the supervisors of my area never made me feel that way. Every volunteer is an integral part of life of the museum. The Prep Lab is easily my favorite places in the museum. It is one of few labs that visitors can watch science happen. It is in real time, real people, doing what they love. With the combination of supervisors, managers, interns or volunteers, there is more then a wealth of information at this museum. If someone doesn't know, they will know someone else in the museum who will know. Occasionally I have seen visitors bring in fossils or bits of bone they would like classified. If one person in Dinosaur Hall doesn't know, they will call around to find someone who will. For volunteering, this museum offers any science I can think of. No matter how odd the field, there is a scientist there. Visitors can always find an interesting part of the museum, and the volunteers always add to that experience

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering in the Live Animal Center at the Academy of Natural Sciences has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to volunteer in the Live Animal Center. My dad has been a weekend security guard for over twenty five years and he used to take me with him all the time so I could wander around. The one place I spent the most time in was the Live Animal center. I have been volunteering since May 2009 and have accumulated over three hundred hours and I am also the 2010 winner of the Ron Conti Award for Excellence in Animal Care. What makes volunteering at the Academy so great is that you have so many options. There is literally something for everyone. The Live Animal Center is what interests me the most. I love volunteering in the Live Animal Center because it teaches you the proper husbandry and care of animals and also their dietary needs, which is everything I need to know since I want to be a veterinarian. There are six levels of training that teach you how to clean and handle each animal properly and you need to pass a written test on all the animal's natural history facts of each animal on that level. The biggest part of volunteering in the Live Animal Center is the maintenance of the facility. Each animal's cage needs to be cleaned everyday and the floors and windows need to be cleaned as well. You also learn how to do laundry, which took me a while to figure out. Another great part of volunteering at the Academy is you learn how to interact with the public and how to get along with other volunteers. But the best and most important part about volunteering in the Live Animal Center, or even any part of the Academy, is that the staff and animal keepers are so nice and will help you or help you understand something better in any way possible. Overall, the Academy of Natural Sciences is one of the best places anyone can volunteer, whether it is for experience in a field of science or for pure enjoyment.

4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I am the mother of 3 boys 5, 4, and 2. We had the pleasure of visiting with the Academy of Natural Sciences last Spring. What an incredible experience for my boys. Yes, they've watched tons of Dinosaur Train episodes, but I don't think you can fully appreciate the size of dinosaurs till you see them in front of you. The Academy provided them with this. Unlike the zoo (that we love too), the Academy also gives kids a chance to see animals that perhaps they only read about in books. You can't go to the zoo to see a bison or fossils from yesterday but at the Academy you can. The Academy's exhibits make learning fun for kids. What kid doesn't like to have a butterfly land on his hand, dig for dinosaur bones, or feel the skin of an alligator? I could go on and on about the Academy, but I invite you to visit my review of it at http://www.professorofplay.com/blog/2010/05/field-trip-friday-academy-of-natural-sciences-review/ I hope you will agree that it is a great asset to the families of Philadelphia and South Jersey.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am former researcher of Hovsgol GEF project implemented by Asia Center of ANSP with funding from GEF. There are several highlights in the project. Firstly, it was the first complex program of Mongolian Long Term Ecological Research in Hovsgol National Park which is only one designated research site during the past 15 years following the establishment of the MLTER Network established in 1998 with the high effort of Clyde Goulden, director of the Asia Center. The researches of the project more focused on understanding the dynamics of representing by boreal system: nomadic pasture use and climate change impacts on steppe and forested habitats in six eastern shore stream valleys. Since the research efforts at the Lake Hövsgöl LTER site have been discussed and published elsewhere. The Hövsgöl GEF project included the capacity building component for 23 young Mongolian researchers who performed the research following training in a series of workshops presented by several international scientists. Now former researchers have been studying in graduate schools in USA, Germany, Japan and China. There are three scholars of Fulbright, which is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, two scholars of DAAD, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD, and two scholars of JDS, Human Resource Development Scholarship of Japan. It is very laudable because there are no other projects with the researchers who awarded the prestigious scholarships of developed countries throughout the world. Clyde Goulden, international consultant of the project, established all the fundament of the ecological researches, including MLTER in Mongolia and career development of Mongolian young researchers.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When my son was growing up, one of the places I never had the chance to take him was the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. He informed me that the school took them on several trips there. I was curious to find out about the Academy of Natural Sciences. My chance came when they had the exhibit on George Washington Carver, the Academy was asking for volunteers from different organizations in Philadelphia. As member of AAHGS~Family Quest Society a genealogy organization I volunteered. I was very impressed with the exhibit and the volunteers were allowed to explore all the exhibits in the museum. When the Carver exhibit ended I requested to remain. The Academy has a program for student call WINS, it is a great opportunity for student to find out about the science field and they get a stiphen for participating. I enjoy seeing the students come on the bus trips and finding out how interesting science can be, and, also I learn interesting information myself. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia contributes a great deal to educating the youths in Philadelphia in the field of science.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

From a very early age I learned to appreciate everything the Academy of Natural Sciences had to offer. My favorites were the magnificent, intimidating dinosaurs. After retiring, I decided to rekindle that old love affair. As luck would have it I met a young doctoral student working at the Academy who said, “We could certainly use your help”. After attending every class available and working the floor of Dinosaur Hall, I became a Docent. Standing in that grand room and watching faces of children as they first encounter the giant reptiles is a reward in itself. The young visitors are full of questions and as you satisfy their thirst, you remember the same feeling of awe you had as a child viewing the Academy’s treasures for the very first time. Eventually I left the public areas and now work behind the scenes in the Labs, with none other than the gentleman, now Doctor, who first greeted me. Regardless of assignment, the Academy experience gives volunteers a sense of belonging to a team that is literally expanding the frontiers of science. I am in my 18th year of service to this iconic institution.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer at the Academy of Natural Sciences for 9 years. They have enriched my life with knowledge and wonder of the natural world. Volunteering has given me the opportunity to meet some of the most interesting people and brightest people I have ever met. Being in there company and sharing their life expereices has broaden my views and made me more curious and adventurous. When I think about the Academy I know I would have never been able to be in a room with the presidents of natural science museums around the world, listen to an owner of a blood hound who saved a child’s life, hear the tales of an arctic explorer or see a man make a beard of bees. But most importantly, I can see every time I go there a child who may be newly discovering the wonder of butterflies or a 10 year old boy who has been studying dinosaurs his whole life see first hand tiki taka and be changed forever. That is why I go to the Academy, they give me far more than I give them, all I give them is my time.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My supervisor and volunteer coordinator never fail to thank me for my work. Volunteers are celebrated at a yearly dinner party and in the regular newsletter. raining is offered regularly to help volunteers develop our skills. We learn that we are an important part of life at ANSP. One of my greatest joys is working with the young volunteers: these young people have found a place to excel and develop scientific and leadership skills. I have been at the Academy long enough to watch shy awkward ninth grade inner city students learn the the content and develop the skills to teach lessons to adults and move on to University with scholarships in hand!

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Since 1987 I have been a volunteer working in the Academy’s Dinosaur Hall. I bring out fossils and show them to kids (and adults). I use the fossils to talk about dinosaurs and paleontology. I also answer questions about the dinosaurs and other Mesozoic animals on exhibit in the hall. In addition working in Dinosaur Hall for the past year (since I retired) I have been volunteering in the Dinosaur Hall’s Prep Lab one day a week. Prep Lab volunteers have been trained to clean and prepare dinosaur fossils. We are currently working on the fossils of a large Sauropod dinosaur found in Argentina. We also talk to the Academy’s guests about the work we are doing on the fossils.

1 john-laberee

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Every day, the Academy of Natural Sciences demonstrates its commitment to spreading knowledge and learning about the natural world around us. I am very impressed with the people who work at the Academy; they love what they do and they work very, very hard. There is always something going on - a lecture to attend, a new discovery being catalogued, or a new exhibit emerging.

13

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have been working at the Academy for about 4 years and I have had a great experience doing so. I started volunteering in the Outside-In (the childrens' nature museum) when I was 12, started in the Live Animal Center when I was 13, and began working with members of the education department when I was 15. I am now about to turn 17 and, needless to say, I've grown up a lot in this place. Working at the Academy has helped me learn a lot about interacting with people (in both a professional and a casual manner), working with animals (domestic and exotic), working within a very large institution, public programming, and much more. It has been an incredibly valuable experience for me to have been able to take on this responsibility at such a young age and, as a result, I have really matured as both a person and a worker. I am very grateful to have had such a long and beneficial relationship with this institution and I plan to continue working with it.