SBnature Journal 2021 Vol. 7 No. 1

Page 1

2021 VOL. 7, NO. 1

SBnature Journal S A N TA B A R B A R A M U S E U M O F N AT U R A L H I S T O R Y

A PASSION FOR NATURAL HISTORY Museum Legend Paul Collins Goes Emeritus


THE BACKYARD A Legacy of Play and Learning

SBnature Journal 2021 VOL. 7, NO. 1



BUILDING A BETTER FUTURE Repairing Our Infrastructure


WHAT’S IN OUR DRAWERS Art and Objects from the Museum’s Collections


A PASSION FOR NATURAL HISTORY Museum Legend Paul Collins Goes Emeritus




BIG PLANS FOR A SMALL SPECIES White Abalone Captive Breeding Update


THE BACKYARD A Legacy of Play and Learning


ANTHRO UPDATE Introducing Brian Barbier


IZ UPDATE New Species Shoutout

2559 Puesta del Sol Santa Barbara, CA 93105 805-682-4711 Wed–Mon, 10:00 AM–5:00 PM




AN ELEPHANT-SIZED GIFT Stanley Hawk Migrates to Maximus





211 Stearns Wharf Santa Barbara, CA 93101 805-962-2526

Photo by Torey Hilley

A NOTE FROM LUKE President & CEO I’m delighted to share that your Museum and Sea Center have truly come roaring back to life.

After ups and downs, we’ve found our footing and been fully open and operational since March. The virtual programs we developed out of necessity last year are thriving, and we’re able to extend our reach far beyond the region. I’m also proud to report that we emerged from 2020 able to keep our staff whole. The board of trustees and staff worked together to raise the necessary resources, and with additional support from the Paycheck Protection Program, we didn’t need to furlough any staff. In February, we recreated the popular Prehistoric Forest, so our dinosaurs wake up each morning to surprise, confound, and inspire guests of all ages. Butterflies Alive! returned to the Sprague Butterfly Pavilion with over a dozen species. We repeatedly receive feedback from visitors saying how much they appreciate having a safe place to visit with family. Behind the scenes, we’ve focused energy on updating key infrastructure in our Collections and Research Center. Because of this effort, the future of over 3.5 million objects curated in the facility will be safer for decades to come. You can read more about the project on page 6. We just completed the repair of the Towbes Family Bridge and re-opened this beautiful and historic bridge in time for the busy Labor Day weekend. The Sea Center is next on our repair list, as we act today to protect our capacity to serve long into the future. Both our campuses are places of inspiration and discovery for everyone. To ensure that we’re welcoming and including all people, we’re actively engaging in work to further develop the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) in every facet of our work. We’ve committed to a long-term, institution-wide course of training with local consultants Equity Praxis Group, LLC, to spread understanding and build solutions throughout our whole organization. Attendance at both of our campuses has been extraordinary this year, and membership is bouncing back as our community returns and feels the excitement on campus. The work of our curators and scientists continues unabated. We’re all delighted to be doing what we do best: connecting people to nature for the betterment of both, one curious guest at a time. Our work is made possible by and for you. Thank you for your support!

Luke J. Swetland President & CEO


BUILDING A BETTER FUTURE Teens in the Quasars to Sea Stars program on the newly reopened Towbes Family Bridge


eyond butterflies and dinosaurs, vibrant galleries and programs, and continuing curation and scholarship, there’s another important initiative underway at the Museum and Sea Center: our ongoing effort to update and upgrade our aging facilities. Almost every aspect of the infrastructure that makes our work possible needs attention. Our exhibits, education, and research depend on our longterm stewardship of that infrastructure.


We began this journey with the renovation and reopening of the Palmer Observatory, complete with two new telescopes, in 2015. This was the springboard for bigger strides. The following year, we began the Centennial Project – upgrading and updating the eastern galleries, and building our beautiful new Sprague Butterfly Pavilion at the doorstep of our expanded and revitalized Backyard and Nature Club House.

No sooner had we completed the Centennial Project (on time and under budget!) than we took on the top-to-bottom restoration of Fleischmann Auditorium in 2019. We restored the original stunning beauty of the space while adding all of the functionality and comfort of a modern major event venue. This year we’re engaged in two significant repair projects: the Towbes Family Bridge and the Collections Care Project.

The Towbes Family Bridge (above right, in 1971) is a gateway to our outdoor exhibits. Photos by Matt Walla and Gary Robinson

The Towbes Family Bridge was deftly repaired with steelstrengthened girders discreetly hidden below the deck. The generous support of Museum Trustee Keith Reichel and Lorraine Reichel led a $400,000 minicampaign to fund the needed improvements. The bridge re-opened safe and strong in September, and will provide an elegant central crossing to the south side of the creek and Sukinanik’oy Garden for decades to come. Thank you to our generous Towbes Family Bridge Project supporters.

Upgraded lighting in Fleischmann Auditorium made it a great venue for The Artist’s Table Art Show.

Anonymous – Friends of the Museum George Bernard Diane Dodds and David Reichert Ehlen Spies and Haight, Inc. First American Title Elaine and Jerry Gibson Nancy and Karl Hutterer Bonnie and Ian Jacobson Joe and Penny Knowles Pippa Hames Knowlton and Chris Knowlton Corinne and Rocky Laverty Tory and Kelly Milazzo Montecito Bank & Trust Keith and Lorraine Reichel Florence Sanchez Santa Barbara Foundation Anne Smith Towbes Carrie Towbes and John Lewis Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin Vern and Mary Jo Williams Roberta and Ken Ziegler


In 2019 we inspected the roof of the Collections and Research Center (CRC) and realized that the leaky roof and most of the HVAC units atop it were reaching end of life. Because the CRC houses over 3.5 million objects and specimens that are the key to understanding the natural and cultural history of our region, we made repairing this facility a priority. Examples of items held in the collections include fossils and shells, animal study skins, bird mounts, shell bead money, the largest collection of Chumash baskets, other Native American cultural patrimony, and even the earliest known human remains found in North America. The CRC also houses the offices of the Museum’s scientists and is a focal point for active and relevant scientific research in anthropology, vertebrate zoology, invertebrate zoology, and earth science.

In 2020 we created a project and fundraising plan for dealing with the infrastructure issues, and launched a capital campaign for the Collections Care Project. Its main goal is to replace the entire roof of the CRC with a new system that will protect the collections, increase seismic stability, and significantly improve energy efficiency. Sixteen badly deteriorated HVAC systems are being replaced with fewer, more energy-efficient models. These units will provide the necessary environmental controls for the collection, particularly humidity control for the ethnography collections, the most fragile materials in the Museum’s care. We’re installing solar panels to help offset the 24-hour, 7-day electricity use required to meet current and future standards for collection care, and building a new Fossil Preparation Lab to strengthen the Earth Sciences Program.


These improvements will dramatically enhance the operational sustainability and functionality of the CRC, remedy issues to avert potentially catastrophic collection losses, and ensure that the Museum meets collections care standards. The total project cost is estimated to be $3.1 million. Construction started this past June and will be completed by this winter’s rainy season. To date, we have raised $2.3 million with a trustee-led fundraising committee cochaired by Sharon Bradford, Bobbie Kinnear, and Hank Mitchel.

A transformation is underway at the Sea Center.

Top left: Standing water and outdated HVAC equipment atop the old CRC roof Top center: The CRC roof’s makeover includes more efficient HVAC units and solar panels. Photo by Frank Schipper Construction Co. Bottom center: Curators in the CRC steward millions of specimens and artifacts.

Just after Labor Day, the Sea Center temporarily closed for needed infrastructure repairs to counter 15 years of wear from salty sea water and air. As we created a repair plan for the next few years, the Sea Center’s infrastructure challenges became clear priorities. The current Sea Center building opened in 2005, but because of its proximity to the ocean and the nature of its exhibits, it needs significant repairs. These include fixing the damaged floor due to leaks, fixing a ventilation issue upstairs that caused tanks to fog during high humidity and heat days, improving the lighting with more efficient LED fixtures, removing unused electrical outlets, insulating cold water piping to reduce condensation drips, and replacing hoop clamps on the water tanks below the Sea Center. This $800,000 project involves closing the Sea Center from September 2021 through February 2022. We have a plan to care for our animals during the repairs, which includes exhibiting some

favorite Sea Center habitats at the Museum. When the animals return to their new homes on the second floor next spring, they will have improved life support systems to continue to provide the very best levels of care for our ambassadors from the channel. And the work continues! Over the years, you will see continuing work at the Museum and Sea Center as we tend to leaking roofs, dry rot, and a host of other repairs. We are proud to steward the buildings from which we serve, and we can only do it because of your support. We are deeply grateful for your generous philanthropy in the form of memberships, gifts, pledges, and estate plan donations. Caring for the special places in our community takes all of our efforts. Together we honor the past by making it new. For more information about supporting these projects, contact Director of Development Caroline Baker at


A PASSION FOR NATURAL HISTORY Museum Legend Paul Collins Goes Emeritus


fter working at the Museum for over 47 years, Curator of Vertebrate Zoology Paul W. Collins, M.A., has retired. Collins leaves behind big shoes to fill. His overflowing enthusiasm, curiosity, and expertise have helped educate the public about the region’s fauna during countless field trips, open houses, lectures, and outreach events. As his colleague, Dibblee Curator of Earth Science Jonathan Hoffman, Ph.D., puts it, “Not only does Paul have an encyclopedic knowledge of zoology and ecology, he also has a wonderful talent for sharing that,” a talent rooted in his passion for natural history. On the Museum staff, Collins furthered our understanding of western vertebrates through his extensive knowledge of the region’s fauna and ecosystems and by expertly preserving specimens that form the basis of the collections. From the reeking bodies of whales killed by ship strikes, he’s collected not only bones for collections and exhibits, but whale earwax—just in case— that led to breakthrough research by others. Curatorial Assistant Julia Alexander has been a key beneficiary of Collins’s skill in preparation, working together for the last four years. “Paul is an incredible, kind mentor,” says Alexander, who now


Examining whale bones buried for cleaning with Dr. Woodhouse c. 1976

has the confidence to prepare anything from a baby Bushtit to a California Condor. “I wouldn’t have wanted to learn those skills from anyone else.” Yet preparation was only part of Collins’s work. He has published an extensive array of peer-reviewed research and contracted studies of the region’s fauna. His wide-ranging island fieldwork of the 1970s and 1980s began with assisting then-Director Dennis Power with Channel Islands bird research, which has since become one of Collins’s main research areas. When he became a

Showing off a pair of study skins on Groundhog Day

father, he could no longer disappear into the wilderness for weeks, but early fieldwork laid the foundation for his museum-based research. He’s collaborated extensively with other researchers and a wide range of agencies on diverse conservation and restoration efforts. His reconstruction of the diets of pre-ranching Bald Eagles and recent Golden Eagles on the Channel Islands informed the restoration that led to the rebound of the Island Fox. That work was based in large part on his identification of bones recovered from historic and present-day eagle nests. Much of his legacy here is founded on his indispensable skill at recognizing minute differences in shape and size that distinguish bones of different species, both for his

own Channel Islands research and as the designated expert for any animal-bone-based question. His contributions also extend to our largest bones on exhibit. In helping to acquire, prepare, mount, and maintain our iconic Blue Whale skeleton, Collins has had more impact on this beloved exhibit than anyone since Dr. Charles Woodhouse first created it. His fingerprints are on other exhibits too, notably Bird and Mammal Halls. As a retiree, Collins is free to focus on completing a book about birds of the Channel Islands…but if we encounter a mystery bone that stumps our other curators, we’ve still got his number. For more information on our Blue Whale Skeleton, visit

Monitoring small mammals along the Pecho Coast in 2012. Photo by Bruce Reitherman


BIG PLANS FOR A SMALL SPECIES White Abalone Captive Breeding Update

Lead Aquarist Nora Frank oversees our White Abalone, big and small.



n 2020, longtime Sea Center Aquarist Thomas Wilson handed over the reins of the Sea Center stallions (as our 18-year-old White Abalone studs are affectionately known). Our endangered marine snails are now in the capable hands of Lead Aquarist Nora Frank, M.S., who began her involvement with the species at UCSB’s Research Experience & Education Facility in 2015. In addition to the four big studs and the many non-abalone animals at the Sea Center, Frank took charge of over 100 younger abalone spawned in 2014, 2019, and 2020. Bodega Marine Lab is the headquarters of the White Abalone Restoration Consortium (WARC), a group of organizations dedicated to researching and restoring this species overharvested to the brink of extinction. The partners include 12 holding facilities from Northern California to Baja California, housing tens of thousands of captive-raised White Abalone. In fall 2020 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration divers placed over a thousand captive-reared White Abalone in wild Southern California waters (a process known as outplanting). WARC’s goal for these endangered animals is to outplant enough snails in their native waters to enable the species to reproduce successfully in the wild again. Meanwhile, researchers strive to understand how rising temperatures and ocean acidification could affect abalone.

The Sea Center has been a proud WARC partner since 2006, and recently we’ve been able to expand our capacity to serve by caring for many juvenile abalone and teaching guests at the Sea Center about these ecologically, culturally, and economically significant snails. In addition to seeing our hefty adults, guests can view juveniles slowly scooting in specialized troughs. (This exhibit is included in the upstairs zone getting refreshed during the Sea Center’s temporary closure for infrastructure updates.) Their specially-managed habitat— closed off from the rest of the Sea Center’s system to protect them from pathogens that might circulate in local water—mimics a rocky reef with lots of surface area to settle down and eat algae. The system used to rear our White Abalone was designed with technical advice from local WARC partner The Cultured Abalone Farm (TCAF), an aquaculture company that sustainably raises Red Abalone for food, and Green and White Abalone for restoration. TCAF knows how to help abalone stay healthy, grow, and reproduce! In August, the Sea Center, TCAF, and NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center received exciting news: they’ve been approved for a NOAA-NAAEE (North American Association for Environmental Education) grant which will support them in teaming up to spread aquaculture literacy by developing curriculum for local high school students. Sea Center staff tour The Cultured Abalone’s Goleta hatchery.

Their plan pairs in-classroom instruction with a tour of TCAF’s facility, so students can study abalone history and biology and immediately see those concepts applied in aquaculture. The partners hope to create a pilot program that could scale up statewide, inspiring the next generation to take career paths in science and make informed decisions about marine natural resources. Frank’s fascinating and challenging work as an aquarist will be featured in the January 8 event, Marine Animal Care & Cutler’s Artisan Spirits. More information at

THE BACKYARD A Legacy of Play and Learning

B A plaque inside the Nature Club House recognizes Elaine Gibson (above left) for her pioneering work in environmental education at the Museum.


eing comfortable in nature is something kids learn…or don’t. In his influential 2005 book Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv described American children’s “nature deficit disorder.” That book had a big impact on our campus: it prompted Elaine Gibson to kick off a revolution. When Gibson read the book, she was the Museum’s reluctant interim director of education. Previously a docent, she held the division together during a stressful transition. In the spring of 2006, someone heightened the understaffing emergency by accidentally overbooking a field trip for 90 kids from Oxnard. The students were signed up to

take a course on habitats that was traditionally taught in a classroom, but it was impossible to put even half of the students in the tiny space. So Gibson took the class outdoors. “I thought, why are we teaching habitat indoors when we’ve got this place?” she recalls. In preparation, she scouted a way to get the students to the creek. A staff member asked her what she was doing. “I’m taking kids to the creek,” she said. “How are you going to keep them out?” he asked. She replied, “I’m not.” The experiment in outdoor education worked with the enthusiastic assistance of Docents Rachel Johansen and Bart Francis.

The kids’ behavior was straight out of Louv’s book, Gibson recalls. Some children were afraid: “When we dug up earthworms, they said, ‘Will they bite? Are they poisonous?’” But after 45 minutes, they were having so much fun she couldn’t get them to leave. “They were seeing tadpoles for the first time. Bart pulled the bark off of a log, and there was a hibernating tree frog inside. They reacted like they’d found gold. The kids went from being scared to utterly amazed and fascinated.” Looking at the earthworms in Gibson’s hand, one child— still too timid to touch the worms—asked why they were all different sizes. “That’s where science starts,” she says with a twinkle in her eye.

Outdoor education at the Museum has a long history, stretching back to Irma Cooke’s classes held outdoors in the 1930s. After-school classes and camps have traditionally been held outdoors, but for school groups, the establishment of indoor teaching spaces brought some drawbacks. Bringing the docent program indoors, “we got lost,” says Gibson. “We’d been trying to teach environmental education to kids who’d never been outside.” Educators and parents had fond memories of outdoor play, but cultural shifts and urbanization increasingly put those experiences out of children’s reach.

Mission Creek—the site of Gibson’s first experiments—is still a delight for guests and campers. Creating a dedicated outdoor play space in the Backyard made the joys of the creek more accessible not just for students, but all guests. “We didn’t really invite people to play outside here until Elaine took hold of the Backyard space,” recalls our historian, Librarian Terri Sheridan. It’s a wilderness with training wheels, which remains one of our most popular spaces a decade after its formal establishment. In 2018, we revamped the human-made creek and made the Backyard friendly to even more guests with the addition of a wheelchairaccessible boardwalk.

Half of Gibson’s work bridging this generation gap in outdoor experience was putting kids at ease. “I would ask kids, ‘What do you need? What would be fun?’” Her grandson helped dream up ideas. The other half was convincing parents outdoor play was safe. “We had to let parents know that it was OK for kids to act like kids out here. Being a gray-haired grandmother with a badge gave me the authority to say that.”

As longtime Naturalist Betsy Mooney notes, “Everyone should have a backyard to explore, discover, and learn, but not everyone has this opportunity. Elaine Gibson expanded nature education by opening our Backyard, taking environmental education outdoors, where it belongs.”

She had to believe in her own authority, too. “In the first couple of years, having kids in the creek on rocks, with those precious heads, I had to have a whole lot of faith that this was going to work.” Her experience affirmed that faith. “Kids are a lot smarter than anybody thinks. They take manageable risks all the time.”

Although it was her brainchild, the Backyard wasn’t Gibson’s work alone. Many educators, leaders, and contractors left their stamp on the space, and credit goes to the community members who supported it and the kids who tested it. “Every time we asked somebody, ‘Will you help?’ they said yes,” Gibson remembers. “It grew organically, and the kids made it happen. And parents sat back and watched.” For more information, visit


ANTHRO UPDATE Introducing Brian Barbier

Barbier shares an openwork Hupa bowl in the Museum’s collections.


ssociate Curator of Anthropology Brian Barbier, M.A., was hired right before the pandemic, so although he’s been with the Museum for over a year, we’re just beginning to see his smiling face around here. Barbier is wrapping up his doctorate at UCSB with a dissertation on local shell beads. He juggles this research and his new curatorial duties with serving as coordinator of the Central Coast Information Center (CCIC), one of nine archives operated by CA state agencies to keep records of archaeological sites.


Barbier’s wide experience with Native American cultures is rooted in Northern California, where he has Native family, friends, and mentors. During his undergrad years, he worked with the UC Davis Department of Anthropology Museum’s collection of California Indian baskets. His Chumash shell bead research at UCSB employs stable isotope analysis to determine bead trade patterns throughout Central and Southern California. He also uses experimental archaeology, replicating past technologies to test hypotheses. To better

understand the time and labor beadmakers invested, and the value of beads in trading economies, Barbier learned to make shell bead money. He gave a beadmaking demonstration and explained his research for Museum Members during Conversations with a Curator: Economy of the Chumash on April 15, 2021. Flintknapping—the practice of making sharp-edged stone tools—is also among his passions, and he hopes to work with education staff to develop more hands-on ways of sharing Native material culture with the public.

Watch Barbier’s bead demo and talk at

IZ UPDATE New Species Shoutout


ur Invertebrate Zoology curators’ taxonomic research continues to illuminate the tree of life. Schlinger Chair and Curator of Entomology Matthew L. Gimmel, Ph.D., and colleagues in Czech Republic, Latvia, and Germany, described Baltodascillus serraticornis in the journal Fossil Record. Their description is based on a beetle preserved in amber from the midto-late Eocene (about 48–34 million years ago). The well-preserved specimen—named for its origin in the Baltic and its serrated antennae—is distinctive enough that it’s not only a new species, but a new genus. It belongs to the family Dascillidae (soft-bodied plant beetles), one of Dr. Gimmel’s research specialties.

Scanning electron microscope imagery of the newly-described snail’s shell. Image by Emilio Rolán

Curator of Malacology Daniel L. Geiger, Ph.D., and colleagues in Cuba and Spain, described a new species in Iberus, published by the Spanish Society of Malacology. Scissurella enriquevidali is a snail less than a millimeter across, sampled off Cuba’s coast by a research vessel in 2017 and named in honor of the society’s founder Enrique Vidal. Lest it be thought that our scientists describe species

willy-nilly, it should be noted that Dr. Geiger also published an opinion piece in the journal Lankesteriana this year, cautioning in the strongest terms against the description of new microorchids without proper support. In this piece, Geiger revised a group of eight described species to a single species, in part based on the superior detail and fidelity of scanning electron microscopy over outdated drawings.

The newly-described beetle preserved in amber. Photo by Robin Kundrata

Look for Gimmel and Geiger on to find publications and full text.


Art and Objects from the Museum’s Collections


on’t be fooled: this Maximus Gallery exhibit’s cheeky title belies its substance. What’s in Our Drawers reveals what’s hidden in the Museum’s Collections and Research Center: not only the kinds of objects preserved there, but the people who care for them. “I hope that people take away more of a personal connection with the Museum when they see all these people behind the scenes,” says Gallery Curator Linda Miller. She and Maximus Exhibit Designer Marian McKenzie coordinated with 14 current and emeritus staff to display a wide variety of specimens and artifacts based on the scientists’ own personal criteria. “I’ve never done a show featuring curatorial staff on such a personal level. I’ve enjoyed collaborating with them,” says Miller. She normally selects items and writes exhibit text alone, using antique prints to highlight the parallel development of the sciences and science illustration. She developed the exhibit concept before the pandemic, but had to shelve it due to the degree of in-person cooperation. Two years later, the unique show has come to fruition.

Each exhibit case contains items chosen by an expert, from marine snail shells studied by Howard/ Berry Chair of Malacology Henry W. Chaney, Ph.D., to bird study skins preserved by Curator of Vertebrate Zoology Krista Fahy, Ph.D. Some objects have a multilayered history, like the artifacts selected by Curator of Anthropology John R. Johnson, Ph.D., which came to the Department of Anthropology during his 35 years on staff. Some favorites—like the prehistoric mammal teeth chosen by Dibblee Curator of Earth Science, Jonathan Hoffman, Ph.D.—are obscure, while others have been celebrated and their display eagerly anticipated, like the Chumash basket chosen by Curator Emeritus of Anthropology Jan Timbrook, Ph.D. (featured at length on the Museum’s blog this April). The specimens and artifacts are accompanied by portrait photography showing staff among the collections, and complemented by antique prints on related subjects. Video interviews with the curators showcase their enthusiasm for their work. As McKenzie notes,

“They want everybody to be as excited about their specimens as they are.” With the addition of that excitement—not to mention expertise—objects in drawers transcend the status of mere objects. Like our collections, the exhibition’s highly personal, contextualized array is greater than the sum of its parts. It proves Miller’s point: “The more you know about anything, the more interesting it becomes. You could be exposed to the most obscure thing, but if it’s put in context by somebody who’s passionate and knowledgeable about it, you come away thinking, ‘That’s really interesting!’ And that’s what we’re here for.” Miller hopes that the human stories behind Museum science—including our curators’ childhood dreams to study dinosaurs or seashells for a living—will encourage guests to see museum careers as real and attainable. “If you pursue your passions, you’ll find that you don’t have to do it in isolation. There are mentors for you out there.” For more information, visit


LOYAL SHIPMATES ON A WILD RIDE Docent Life “The docents have been with us like loyal shipmates on a wild ride,” says School & Teacher Services Manager Charlotte Zeamer, Ph.D. The 40-person corps of volunteer educators rode the waves of the pandemic with the Museum, from the stormy troughs to the foamy peaks. Conditions, regulations, and schedules changed with dizzying speed, but our stalwart crew stuck with us. Dr. Zeamer has worked to reward their tenacity with learning opportunities that make the program unique. Curator Emeritus of Ethnography Jan Timbrook, Ph.D., gave a demonstration of basketweaving in the Chumash style. Chumash weavers are famous for multicolored designs, mostly using different preparations of Juncus rushes. Docents observed firsthand the kind of work that goes into weaving a coiled basket. Educator Gina Mosqueda-Lucas (Shamala Chumash) led docents in a workshop to create traditional dolls, made with Tule reed bodies and oak gall heads. Some sported Tule flower hair and other adornments, and different clothing


Top to bottom: Docents Zandra Cholmondeley and Farshad Barman share meteorites with guests. Docents create Tule dolls during Mosqueda-Lucas’s workshop. This year’s workshops will inform how docents like Glenn Grayson (pictured in 2019) interpret Chumash culture to students.

Docent Penny Porter and Quasar Judah team up to interpret prehistoric life.

styles suggested whether the doll represented a man or a woman. “It was delightful, hearing the details of how things fit together in the culture,” recalls Docent Penny Porter. “Our instructor was so comfortable and casual, and she surprised us at the end” with a final instruction: to follow another Chumash tradition and generously give away their dolls. Porter plans to give hers to a friend who is a world traveler and can appreciate the gift’s origin. Experiencing culture and science up close empowers docents. Memorable personto-person training helps them establish the broad base of knowledge they use to inspire students and guests. Many specialize and gain deeper knowledge in areas of

personal interest. As Zeamer says, “They take ownership of the programs by adding their professional touches as educators.” The result? They create educational experiences that are deeply personal and memorable for guests. Porter is a retired schoolteacher and enjoys being able to apply her classroom skills with a twist. She’s observed that instead of offering a lecture, a skilled docent inspires conversation: “I need to quickly figure out what you already know, so I can entice you to want to know more.” A lifelong student herself, Porter joined the docents to put down roots as a newcomer to Santa Barbara, and was pleased by the deep knowledge of her fellow volunteers. Their reputation isn’t lost on the community.

“I say with pride that I’m a docent at the natural history museum, and my friends are suitably impressed,” she laughs. Working through the pandemic chaos “brought the docents together,” says Docent Glenn Grayson, “especially the ones who really want to be here to talk about science.” Grayson is definitely one of those, as anyone knows who has encountered him on campus, stimulating meaningful conversations about everything from dinosaurs to Mars rovers to Chumash plant knowledge. “Science is very important for our present, our future, and to understand the past. It’s pivotal that we understand science.” To learn more about joining this crew, visit


A CELEBRATION OF SUPPORT It was thrilling to host Members of the Leadership Circles of Giving and other major donors at the annual Leadership Circles Luncheon and Legacy Awards presentation this past July in beautiful Fleischmann Auditorium. This event is typically held as a dinner each January, which was not possible this year due to county health restrictions. When we got the word we could all safely come together again, we jumped at the opportunity to gather this amazing group of Museum and Sea Center supporters, and to honor the 2021 Legacy Award recipients.

The afternoon was truly a celebration. The floral theme brought color and joy to the festivities, and guests and staff were all smiles. President & CEO Luke J. Swetland provided a heartwarming and inspiring presentation focused on the accomplishments and outreach of the Museum throughout 2020 with the unwavering support of Members of the Leadership Circles of Giving and other key supporters. The afternoon also included presentations of Legacy Awards recognizing extraordinary contributions to the Museum and the natural world by community supporters, donors, and volunteers. This year, Joan Easton Lentz, Wayne Rosing, and Nancy Panizzon were honored for their work and philanthropy. We look forward to welcoming everyone back next year to the annual dinner on January 20, 2022, to celebrate together another successful year of bringing science and nature to all.

We were particularly happy to have award honoree Joan Easton Lentz join us in person!


To learn more about membership in the Leadership Circles of Giving, including our monthly or quarterly payment program, contact Development Officer Diane Devine at or 805-682-4711 ext. 124.







1 The beautiful 2021 baccarat crystal Legacy Awards, generously donated by Bryant & Sons Jewelers 2 Museum Trustee Brad Willis does the honors of presenting the 2021 Legacy Awards. 3 Our fabulous curators always join the festivities as table hosts, including Schlinger Foundation Chair and Curator of Entomology Matthew L. Gimmel, Ph.D. (center). 4 2021 Legacy Award Recipient Wayne Rosing receives his award from Trustee Brad Willis. 5 Fleischmann Auditorium is the perfect setting for this celebration of our wonderful Leadership Circles Members and key contributors. 6 New Museum Trustee Keith Reichel and his wife Lorraine are joined by Chief Operating Officer Amy Carpenter and Director of Development Caroline Baker (seated left to right), along with Development Officer Becca Summers and President & CEO Luke J. Swetland (standing).


AN ELEPHANT-SIZED GIFT Stanley Hawk Migrates to Maximus


it down with California Condor Archivist Jan Hamber and you’ll hear great stories. Hamber remembers things the rest of us can only dream about, like the day she stumbled on a treasure trove of Audubon prints. On a mid-1960s summer day, Hamber and her husband Hank were in Twin Lakes, Connecticut, “a beautiful double lake with the Berkshires in the background,” she recalls. Dotted with white farmhouses, Twin Lakes was Hank’s family’s traditional vacation site. Hamber went to pick up her son at a friend’s place—one of those white farmhouses—and was astonished to see Audubon prints over the piano. These belonged to the original edition of Birds of America, which Audubon produced with engraver Robert Havell. Known as a double-elephant-sized folio because of their enormity, the handcolored engravings were exclusively


produced for 186 subscribers who could afford to buy 435 exquisite bird portraits for the price of a house. In another little white farmhouse, Hamber tracked down the prints’ source: a Mr. March, grandson of an original subscriber. His prints weren’t heirlooms; during the depression of 1893, his family sold their Havells “to keep the wolf away from the door.” March bought Havell prints to recover his heritage. Now he planned to move to the unsuitable climate of Florida, so his Havells were on the market. They were everywhere: birds crowded the walls downstairs. Upstairs were mammals, and a shocking surprise: “He reached under a bed and pulled out a great mass of prints.” Hamber chose the Stanley Hawk, a bird Audubon named for subscriber Lord Stanley. This English name didn’t stick to an American bird; it’s really a Cooper’s Hawk, after American ornithologist William Cooper.

The print cost about three months of Hamber’s salary, but with her background in birds, Hamber knew it was worth it. Her parents had encouraged her to be a housewife with a profession as a backup. She studied ornithology at Cornell, joining the Museum in 1959. “As I worked at the Museum, I began to realize that being a wife and mother was an important part of my life, but there was a part that was me, and the me was a naturalist.” Today, Hamber has been with the Museum longer than anyone else, accumulating a legacy of work in condor conservation recently recognized in Audubon magazine.* Now the Stanley Hawk is part of her legacy, too. She designated it as a gift to the Museum’s Maximus Gallery in her will, and is giving it early to feel peace of mind about her home’s vulnerability to fire. “To me, the Museum was the obvious place to donate my Havell print,” she says. “Having been here so long, having watched the Maximus Gallery grow, knowing they have archival space, I feel very happy to have it under their care.”

John James Audubon, The Birds of America, 1828

Have a treasure of your own that belongs in a museum? Visit to start planning your legacy.

*Fall 2020, “This Bird Survived Because She Never Quit,” by John Moir


1 2

6 8

5 Legacy Award Winner



3 7

9 1 Paleobiologist Jenna Rolle, M.S., points out the showy neck spines of Amargasaurus in Dinorama. 2 In 2021 we had the Red-spotted Purple species for the first time in Butterflies Alive! 3 Birding and Buttonwood included a peep at this Santa Ynez Valley specialty, the Yellow-billed Magpie. 4 Members Mark and Olivia Uribe-Mutal and sons get up close with dinosaurs. 5 President & CEO Luke J. Swetland honors Sea Center Volunteer Nancy Panizzon with a Legacy Award. 6 Members Brent and Danah Williams and daughter explore Chad the Blue Whale from the inside out. 7 Docent Charlotte Tyler and Quasar Stella share the latest information on the exploration of Mars. 8 Nature Education Manager Sabina Thomas, Ph.D., reopened the Curiosity Lab in May. 9 Guests returned to explore Mammal Hall as indoor exhibits reopened (again). 10 Giant Pacific Seahorses (new to the Sea Center in 2020) settled in this year.



Brent in his natural habitat

I want to introduce you to my neighbor, Groundskeeper Brent Flaaten.


rent lives on Museum property, and his 25step commute takes him to work before most of us are awake. He hears and sees this magical spot as no-one else does. Instead of dinosaur roars, he hears the birds’ dawn chorus. He walks among oaks dripping with morning fog moisture instead of speckled with midday sunlight. The rest of us may meet lizards, hawks, and squirrels, but only Brent regularly encounters our neighborhood Bobcat. Brent himself is not elusive. His smiling face is a common sight here, and he loves sharing hidden treasures with fortunate guests. Naturally, Brent’s favorites are two key highlights of the grounds: Larry’s Coast Redwoods and Larry’s Lookout, both of which are legacies of his groundskeeping predecessor, Larry Bregante.


Larry worked at the Museum for 40 years, putting an unmistakable stamp on our outdoor spaces. The way Larry committed his life and energy to this place impressed us all. Larry’s Lookout is a nook beside Mission Creek, cradled by boulders and oaks. Larry and his helpers carved out this rugged space and laid the steps to it in the early 1980s. Look for the short stone stairway between the Broder Building and Towbes Family Bridge. When the creek is running, it’s particularly beautiful. Without Brent’s directions, most people breeze past that discreet spot. Larry’s trees are harder to miss. “One of the first things Larry showed me was those redwoods across the creek,” Brent recalls. Larry recounted planting the trees in his youthful first days at the Museum. Now they tower overhead at about 80 feet.

Larry and his redwoods

Larry in his lookout, front and center of the Facilities Department team on his retirement in 2018

“I was stunned. The length of time that he was here, his dedication, all the ways he touched this place. Larry’s legacy is everywhere. Every day at work, I think about Larry and see things he’s done.” Brent came to us via a winding road. Young Brent’s dad made him prune trees in their small Camarillo avocado orchard. As an adult, Brent climbed the rungs to manage a large team maintaining properties for high-end clients. He left the field during the 2008 recession, and put his hat back in the landscaping ring just in time to become Larry’s successor. During his first months, he was so excited to be taking over from such a legend that he would tell anyone who would listen that working here was the culmination of his career. Now he only tells you that if you ask about it, but his love of the job is still a palpable force. Since taking over in 2018, Brent’s begun to oversee big, slow changes. He learned alternative

pest management techniques to be eco-friendly. Drought— and a long-term outlook of water scarcity and rising heat—is pushing us to slowly add efficient drip irrigation and prioritize what we water. Our grounds have a mix of native and introduced plants, but going forward, we’re planting natives. Brent’s working closely with Santa Barbara Botanic Garden staff to source hard-tofind plants. Brent learned his trade in the commercial landscape field: “That’s a very minimal palette. Stuff that’s easy, bright, green all year. Showy all the time.” Going native means appreciating showy foliage in season, like the blue and white Ceanothus blooms we enjoy on campus in late winter. This shift to natives will reduce our water use and enhance the educational and ecological value of our space. Studying up on these plants assures Brent of a lifetime of intellectual stimulation to complement the labor of trenching for irrigation,

clearing up after windstorms, and wrangling leaves. Although he’s only been here a few years, I see another Larry in the making. Brent feels blessed to have worked alongside Larry for three months. In my work, I’ve been fortunate to work beside many individuals who have shown such dedication to the Museum, and many, many more people who have been inspired by that dedication. This place elicits that kind of response, and I think the magic of our grounds is one reason for it. I hope you now know the story of those grounds a little better. If you meet Brent, please stop to say hello and recognize his passion. He may show you something you’ve never noticed!

Luke J. Swetland President & CEO

2559 Puesta del Sol Santa Barbara, CA 93105

SBnature Journal is a publication of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. As a Member benefit, issues provide a look at the Museum’s exhibits, collections, research, and events. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is a private, non-profit, charitable organization. Our mission is to inspire a thirst for discovery and a passion for the natural world. For information about how to support the Museum, contact Director of Development Caroline Baker at 805-682-4711 ext. 109 or



Cover photo: Exhibits Lead Francisco Lopez urges caution in the presence of the tyrant lizard king.

SAVE THE DATE 12/3–12/5


Folk & Tribal Arts Marketplace

Natural History of Wine, Beer & Spirits: Marine Animal Care & Cutler’s Artisan Spirits



Science Pub From Home: Buzzing about Santa Barbara’s Bee Diversity

12/20–12/31 Nature Adventures™ Winter Camps

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival ®

For more information on upcoming events visit

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.