Written by Christina Kohler, second year double major in Environmental Economics & Policy and Molecular Environmental Biology.
I first experienced the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology on Cal Day before I had decided to come to UC Berkeley. The day was a blur. However, I do clearly remember visiting the Museum and seeing all of the exhibits and animals that were on display. I also remember thinking that this would be the best place for me to develop my passion for research and the environment. The atmosphere at the Museum that day really inspired me to come to Cal. Fortunately, I was able to be a part of that environment again this past semester, working to organize and catalogue the Public Service Collection in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology Archives. Dr. Robert C. Stebbins, Museum Curator and Professor of Zoology at UC Berkeley, brought the collection together over the span of several years. The series consists of a variety of conservation issues that the Museum has been involved with, including Off-road Vehicles in the California Desert, Long-toed Salamander Protection, The Bodie Protection Act, and many more.
I had the honor of reading through all of the material in each series so that I could organize and catalogue the entire collection. I not only learned about the specifics on processing a collection of documents, newspapers, and photographs, but also about the details behind several prominent conservation issues. Working with this collection solidified my decision to work in the field of conservation biology. It also helped me to realize that educating people about the issue is the most important step in making a difference. With many of the issues, individuals initiated the protection of their communities by taking action – creating committees, publicizing the issue, and writing letters to government officials. This collection has inspired me even more to dedicate my future educating people regarding the present situation in order to help restore an overall healthier environment. Working in the MVZ to reveal this collection has been very exhilarating. I plan to continue next semester with the same collection, digitizing the material so that researchers everywhere will know that the Museum has these materials. Many thanks to URAP, Christina Fidler, and everyone at the Museum who made my experience what it was!