Thursday, March 20, 2008

Why do you love the Bean Life Science Museum?

Share your thoughts HERE

In the early years, mom and dad were just getting started with their farming career. They had just a couple of small “units” of ground and were struggling with all aspects of eking out a living from the just-inaugurated and newly irrigated desert sand. Isolation, minuscule financing, overwhelming forces of nature and limited equipment were matched by their unlimited and tenacious desire to work and succeed.

One Saturday evening in the fall of 1960 when I was five, a very unusual sight settled upon our humble abode. A caravan of fancy Lincoln Continentals and Cadillacs pulled up to our door and a large group of men exited. (Little did any of us realize that 21 years later, some of the same group would be witnesses and participants to a farming accident that almost killed me.)

They introduced themselves as bird hunters from Seattle and asked if it might be possible for them to hunt pheasants, ducks and geese around our farm. My folks soon found out that most of them were originally from Utah and were Mormon. Dad invited them to come to church and have Sunday dinner with us the next day. They accepted.

This memorable evening was the beginning of a long and wonderful friendship. Three brothers formed the core of the group. They were Monte (ML), Stan and Eugene Bean. The Bean brothers had grown up in Richfield, Utah after their schooling, had worked their way north.

ML worked for Skaggs Department Stores in Portland, Oregon in the 50’s and worked his way up. He also was called as the first stake president when the Portland Stake was organized.

ML was a very successful businessman, eventually starting a chain of several hundred Pay ‘N Save drug stores, Ernst Hardware stores and Malmo nurseries. He was on several bank boards and before the time of Bill Gates, I heard he was the wealthiest man in the State of Washington although he never talked about his money. I also remember hearing that one year ML was honored with a ticker tape parade in downtown Seattle.

Stan and Eugene owned a chain of Seattle Sporting Goods stores. Their hunting comrades included dentists, psychiatrists, doctors and other professionals. Most of them were LDS and often attended church with us when they came out to hunt in the fall. They were all genuinely nice guys.

They always showed up on the Saturday morning of hunting season, which was usually around the first week of October. They brought No Hunting signs that got posted around the boundaries of dad’s and a few other farms. Pheasants were plentiful then. The weather always seemed beautiful. Hunting season started at noon. When the clock struck twelve, 12-gauge gunshots began ringing out for miles around. Being a beautifully-feathered game cock had it’s disadvantages on those fall days. Everyone usually limited out with 3 roosters apiece.

Those Saturday afternoons were heaven for this little boy that they let tag along, After they had tromped through a cornfield with their dogs scaring up birds, they would take a break by their cars, listening to the University of Washington Huskies football game on the radio. Soda pop, chips and candy were a rare luxury to our family but a common staple during those Saturdays in October. This yearly experience was a delight to my family and I. They often brought gifts of food, a shotgun for my dad, footballs and other items that we wouldn’t otherwise have had.

Dad was always off working but I got to tag along and listen to their banter. I loved those experiences.

In 1965, the “hunters” as we called them, invited us to go to Illwaco, at the mouth of the Columbia, and go deep-sea fishing with them. Several of our neighbors were also invited. For some reason, I was the only kid who got to go.

They charted 3 boats as there was probably 30 or 40 “hunters” and “farmers” going. I went on the boat with my grandparents. ML was also on our boat.
ML was a longtime sportsman. He regularly fished and hunted, even going on several safari’s in Africa. Many years later, he donated the funds and many stuffed animal specimens to build the Monte L Bean Life Science Museum at BYU.
We fished through the morning. Our skipper was a young tanned buck that thought he knew it all. I was standing by ML and he was showing me how to let my line out and reel it in. The skipper came up and started giving ML instructions on how to fish. ML was a tall, mustachioed, very dignified and deep-voiced individual. He looked at the skipper and said, “Son, you don’t need to tell me how to fish. I was fishing long before you were in diapers.” As a ten-year old and just barely out of diapers myself, I got a kick out of that.
Everyone on our boat caught fish. It was great. The day wore on. I had caught two 15 or 20 lb. salmon. I really wanted to catch my limit of three. All of a sudden, a big lunker hit my line. I fought and reeled for at least 30 minutes. We both were exhausted by the time we met up at the side of the boat. Just as the deck hand reached out to net him, he chewed through the line and got away.

Everybody agreed that it was the biggest fish anyone had caught on our boat. They said it was at least a 30-pound King. I was greatly disappointed but I was glad it was over. I was tired!

I had just got my hook baited and my line out again when the skipper said to reel in, we were done for the day. As I started reeling in, I got another bite. This was another winner! I could tell by the way he was trying to pull the little 10 year-old out of the boat.
I was determined not to lose him. Everyone on board was excited that I had hooked another one, except for maybe the homesick captain. I fought and reeled and struggled as another 30 minutes ticked by. Eventually I got him up to the boat. We landed Mr. King without a problem. I was worn out. After we got back to the docks, he weighed out at 32 pounds. I weighed in at just a few pounds more.

We went out several more years after that. In August of 1968, ML invited my folks and I to spend a couple of days fishing with him and his wife on their new yacht, the Lady B. I was still on crutches as this was the summer of my head-on crash with the missionaries from 3 months earlier.

His boat was a beauty. Everything was either chrome or painted gleaming white. It was the biggest boat anchored at Illwaco. ML had to make special docking arrangements, as they didn’t have a slip big enough for it. ML had a retired navy skipper hired full time to pilot the boat. When we started the journey from the ocean back to port on the first day, the skipper motioned me to hobble up and sit at the controls. There were many shiny gauges and switches but the heart of the controls was the big chrome steering wheel and the two throttle handles for the motors.

It had two large diesel motors that powered the boat. It went fast enough that ML told us he had pulled his grandkids on water-skis. I thought I had died and gone to heaven as I steered and throttle the Lady B back to port.

We went fishing with them for 2 days. We caught fish and had an even more memorable experience the second day out. The first day had been sunny and nice but the second day was bleak and rainy. Later in the morning, the ocean started getting choppy enough that we couldn’t continue fishing. We headed in and when we got to the bar (where the Columbia meets the sea), it got worse.

As we motored through the big swells, we saw a small boat (18 feet or so) racing through the water. We all started making comments about how those people were nuts. Just as the speeding boat passed by us on our left side, it hit a big wave and it’s front end flipped over and the boat assumed an upside down hull heading the opposite direction. I’ve never seen anything like that except when unlimited hydroplanes decide they would rather fly than sail.

Our skipper, being the experienced navy guy, immediately got on the radio and called the Coast Guard, giving them the coordinates of our location. They said they would have a cutter out there ASAP.

Soon, one guy popped up at the side of the capsized boat and then another. I’m sure they were cold, scared and disoriented. We waited for the rescue craft for about 5 minutes. We finally saw it coming and the entertainment continued. As the cutter sped toward us, we could see a couple of sailors up on the deck, stripping their clothes off and donning wet suits.

As the rescue boat reached the capsized craft, the frogmen dove off the relatively high cutter deck and into the sea. They swam to the boat, grabbed one guy and assisted him over to their ship. The deck was so high that they had to lift him up from the water and crew from the cutter leaned down to grab his outstretched hands. The frogmen then swam back and looked like they were trying to get the second guy to leave the boat. He wouldn’t go. We couldn’t figure out what the problem was. All of a sudden, the frogmen started diving under the overturned boat. We realized there must be someone else under the boat.
I thought whoever was under there was a goner. The boat had been upside down for at least ten minutes by that point. After a few dives, the frogmen grabbed the guy and forced him to go with them to the cutter. We could tell he was upset and didn’t want to leave.
The cutter quickly motored its way to the front of the boat. The crew threw a rope and lashed it to the cutter while the frogmen tied the other end to the front of the bellied-up boat. Everyone was moving very fast. As soon as the swimmers could grab hold, the cutter took off, pulling the boat in tow.

The boat flipped upright immediately. The divers crawled in and began working at something that was hidden from our view. Soon, they pulled a young girl out but just as they did, the boat rolled over again. They swam the kid to the cutter and lifted her up to outstretched arms. We could see that the girl was alive and functioning. I felt it was a miracle, seeing she had been underwater for so long. She must have been strapped in the boat but able to find an air pocket to breathe in during those long minutes.
The drama wasn’t over. The divers swam back to the boat and the cutter took off once again. Again, the boat flipped up and the divers crawled back inside. There must be another one! We were shocked and worried that maybe this one had drowned.
He hadn’t. Another little kid was unbuckled and the divers hustled him to the cutter. We were incredulous at what we had just witnessed. The cutter took off, pulling the no-longer-speeding craft behind it towards the port. The skipper of the cutter called our skipper and thanked him for the excellent directions and help he had given. Even though the fishing was lousy that day, we all felt great. We had observed an exciting rescue with no fatalities.

Many years later, in the late 70's, my folks got an invitation from ML to attend a dinner and the dedication of the ML Bean Life Science Museum at BYU. They couldn't make it but forwarded the tickets to me. It was a grand affair and I got to spend a few minutes afterward with ML. I have always treasured the relationships and experiences I had with the Beans and their companions.

September 26, 2008
Ben Casper

One of my fonder memories of the museum happened quite recently. As a museum educator I give live animal shows and a few weeks ago I was halfway through a presentation about invertebrates when I reached into a cage to retrieve our Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. They like to hide under a little log we keep in their cage so I usually just pick up the log so people can get a better look. Well what to my wondering eyes should appear but our two adult roaches and several dozen babies. I let out an involuntary “Whoa!” and then tried to save face by calmly replacing the log. Exciting, and very gross. I love this place. There’s always something new.

April 1, 2008

Matt Meese
Museum Educator

March 29, 2008
From Museum Visitors:

I really Liked the aquatic animals. I hope you get more fish.

I like that it has Alaskan animals (moose, polar bear, brown bear, silver salmon, king salmon, red salmon and artic fox). I like that you have these things because I love Alaskan animals because I lived almost all my life in Alaska and I was born there.

Reptiles - snakes, lizards, turtles
We come often for 6 year old grandson to see the animals and talk about where and how they live. Never ending enthusiasm!

I met the love of my life at the Bean Museum....I worked at the information desk and one day my future husband came up to use the phone. He asked me to go fishing and then the rest is history!!

The Bean Museum is a wonderful resource; there is no other place to see so many animals from so many places anywhere in Utah Valley. Our kids love to come and do the scavenger hunts and listen to the live animal shows. We are very lucky to have this museum available in our community.

The Most Amazing Thing Is The Whole Display Of The Butterflies,Very Gorgeous And Colorful.This Is Going To Be My Best Memory,Because I Came Here With My 2months Year Old "Ezkiel".My Name Is Alqwendolene From Page Arizona,And Currently Living Here In Utah Now.It's So Awesome When I Can Learn More About Other Living Things In This World,And So This Museum Is Amazing Plus More,I'm 26 Yrs Old.

March 28, 2008
From Museum Visitors:

I came to the Bean Museum when I was little, and I loved it because of the shell exhibit. That love stuck with me, and now I'm at BYU as a student. And I get to work here! I love being able to see all the exhibits. I've been excited about Open Collections night ever since I saw the poster about it in the custodial office. I love the Bean Museum!
Leila Watts

The bean life science museum teaches a lot to many!

I love this museum cause it was free!!!

I really enjoyed coming to BYU and seeing the museum! I was amazed at variety of animals, birds, and insects that I will probably never be able to see in person! Thank you!!

It was free!

When the museum opened my mother invited me, my husband and children to join her for a museum visit. We came frequently, especially when we had out of town visitors. It was a fun learning place. Today I am here with my husband, four of our children, and 9 out of town grandchildren. We are enjoying the museum, and are busy doing scavenger hunts. My mother always ended our visits with a trip to the BYU creamery. We will go there when we leave the museum. My children think it is the essential end to the museum visit.

I plan Saturday Safari at the Bean Museum and, while trying to decide on one favorite memory of the Museum, a lot of my experiences during Saturday Safari came to mind. Here are just a few:
  • The time our tarantula, Rosie, spun webs all over my hands and the kids all came up and pulled on the silk—even though some of them were afraid of spiders.
  • The time we got permission to go into the ornithology room in the basement of the Bean Museum during a Saturday Safari and we explored hundreds of different types of birds and nests.
  • When we played the rhino charging game. We blindfolded the "rhino" and the "rhino" had to charge at us.
  • When we brought out Oatis (our African spurred tortoise) and put a carrot at the end of the “runway” and timed his race across the carpet.
  • When Rosie (the tarantula) went to the bathroom on my hand . . .
  • When Oatis went to the bathroom on the stage . . .
  • When we all watched a video of an octopus eating a shark!
  • When we pretended to be Horned lizards and squirted ketchup at a target to see our aim (horned lizards squirt blood out of their eyes . . .)

March 27, 2008

Emily Kuttler
Museum Educator

March 27, 2008
From Museum Visitors:


This place is my favorite place to come in the summer. Me and my friend come here every week. Ben Calaway



Dr. Clayton White, the curator of birds here at the museum, often remarks that most people miss their own funeral by only a few days. Well . . . I had the privilege of attending Clayton's "funeral" at the museum . . . and so did he! It was a surprise party, thrown by his wife and children, for his 70th birthday. They devised an elaborate ruse to get him to the museum on time; he thought he was supposed to give a tour of the collections to some important dignitaries. The museum occasionally has catered dinners for special University events, so it took him a while to realize that the party was for him! He was shocked into speechlessness. Following a lovely dinner, family, friends, and colleagues adjourned to the auditorium, where vulture mounts had been hung from the ceiling and a casket had been placed on the stage. We sang hymns like I'm a Pilgrim, I'm a Stranger (look at verse 2 about those who stray becoming the vulture's prey) and "Pore Clayton's Daid," a parody of the song from the musical Oklahoma. I played the piano. Family members talked about how great their father/grandfather is and about their memories of him. It was great fun!

March 27, 2008

Janene Auger
Assistant Editor
Western North American Naturalist

I have always loved going to museums. When I was little, the highlight of visiting Grandma's was driving downtown to the Smithsonian and seeing all the dino fossils and stuffed animals. Learning small bits about these awesome creatures in the museum inspired me to learn more on my own. While I learned more about one creature, it led me to learn more about other things, and so I learned more about the natural world. As you can imagine, with this kind of background, working at the Bean is heaven! Not only do I get to be surrounded by natural history all the time, I get to share my passion for it with others. Some of my favorite memories at the museum are of me balanced on one foot, holding a monitor lizard aloft on the other, and explaining how a lizard's third eye works. Any scratches procured while posing as the interim climbing post are of course worn as badges of honor! And you can really see the miracle of teaching when a toddler is trying to coax his mom to touch the nice snake. Being able to share what I love with others is the most rewarding part of working at the Bean, and that's what this museum is about, teaching one another so we can make a better future.

March 26, 2008

Cassie Andrew
Museum Educator

My first experience with the Bean Museum was only three months ago when I first began working here. Since then, I have come to know the museum as a wonderful place filled with opportunities to discover and meet some of the most caring and knowledgeable people.

These are some of the perks I’ve found to working at the Bean museum:

• Watching the displays in the making and seeing the finished product
• Meeting young children when they occasionally put their noses to the glass of my office door and ask, “what’s in here?”
• Getting to see different animals every time I walk down the hall to run an errand
• Seeing an entire first grade class line up with their small change to buy something from our museum store.
• Opening packages delivered to us containing artificial animal snouts for displays.
• Getting to answer to people on the phone, “Yes, our museum is free and open to the public!”

And here are some perks to working with the people I do:

• Looking through a roll of quarters to find the missing quarter for a co-worker’s quarter collection.
• Hearing a number of renditions from Broadway musicals being sung in the break room
• Printing out a schedule every Monday for the custodial staff (way to be on top of it!)
• Receiving emails from the other secretaries with clearly outlined TO DO lists
• Getting various notes and apologies on the deposit every morning from store employees
• Typing Ken Packer’s memos

Thanks for the good times!

March 26, 2008

Rebecca Peterson
Student Secretary

I love the Bean Life Science Museum! It is a place of wonder and learning. There are so many things to see, and so much to learn about. As an employee, my favorite part is watching the kids on school field trips. They are so excited and run from animal to animal with shouts of "Wow, look at this, and look at this"! It is so exciting to see them so excited and watch as they take it all in. They are like sponges soaking up every detail!

March 26, 2008

Patty Jones
Assistant to the Director

March 25, 2008
From Museum visitors:

AGE :5



My memories of the museum began as a child visiting the Museum with my local school – I remember wandering around looking at the details of the animals and observing the characteristics that differentiated them from one another. I particularly loved the vividly colored butterflies! Now, as a student at BYU, it’s been a great opportunity to work at the Museum, being able to brush shoulders with some excellent coworkers. It’s also fun because you can’t help but learn about our world through the conversations with curators, various exhibits and live animal shows. I’ve also been able to bring groups of students from local schools that are learning about the opportunities available to them in a college or university – the Bean Museum has been one of their absolute favorite places to enjoy and it’s a joy watching them have learn and have fun!

March 25, 2008

Jacquie Carter
Student Secretary

I remember visiting the museum for some of my art classes when I was going to BYU in 1984-1986. I enjoyed the wide selection of specimens to draw...especially North American mammals. I also remember coming to see the Ramsey display around 1987.

March 25, 2008

Randy Baker
Museum Graphic Designer

I've been working at the Bean Museum for several years now. I got started at the museum because I have always had a love for animals and nature, and heard that they needed to hire a reptile caretaker over the summer. While doing that, I also began to help with shows, and to share my love of nature with the public, and especially with children. It's hard to find one specific memory that I like the most from my time here (there are many great memories) but one that I particularly like is a Japanese Reptile show that I gave. (Not Japanese reptiles, but a reptile show given in Japanese). The Japanese people are lots of fun, especially the high schoolers. Whenever I would bring out a large reptile such as Ringo, ShiShi or Oatis, the room would fill with excited students going "Eehhhhh!" or sometimes jumping, up, acting scared, just having fun. The teachers and other chaperones would also react in great ways. That's an example of one of the many fun memories that I have from the Bean Museum. Being able to bring nature to families and to watch their excitement, help them overcome fears, and to see them gain a greater respect and love for our world.

March 25, 2008

Brent Beardsley
Museum Educator

March 24, 2008
From Museum visitors:


Today I was here looking at the ducks. My favorite was the Bufflehead. I turned to my roommate and said, "Hey, Bufflehead!" and then made a face as if to say, "What are you gonna do about that?!?" All she could come up with was, "Goldeneye!" I took it as a compliment. Now I go by Goldie. Yes, the Bean Museum changed my life and my identity... forever.

I love the Monte Bean Museum because it smells like beans. I love beans. Especially Pinto. So good in a soup. I also enjoy looking at the stuffed ostriches. Garbanzo beans make great hummus. Hummus is a middle-Eastern food that tastes great with rye. And it rhymes with Pumice. A rock I believe I have seen here. I love the museum!

They give me and my family a chance to see animals up close, that we would never get a chance to otherwise. After coming to the museum, we all have a great appreciation and understanding of the natural world.

As a new professor, this was the only location we could afford to take our children for learning and entertainment -- and they never tired of coming.
Thank you.

Because it is wholesome and free! It is the first place I took my now wife on a date. Thanks a bunch!

I have always loved the Bean Museum. When you grow up in Utah County then you are almost sure to have visited the museum at least once. Some of my fondest memories of the museum include running around with the other third graders in my class trying to decide which animal each of us looked most like, being scared to death when someone put a plastic snake from the museum store in my hair, and my favorite story of all is that this was the very first place I held a boys hand!!! (I was in second grade!).
When I came here on field trips I never imagined that I would be working here as a university student—but I do now and I love it. I am confident there is no other job on campus that can relate to being a secretary at the Bean Museum. It has been such a great learning experience to see what goes on beyond the exhibits that I saw as a young school girl and to see the importance of the collections here. Most of all I have enjoyed getting to know the faculty and staff members that work here and see the incredible contributions to the museum and BYU that they make every day. They will forever be my friends.

March 24, 2008

Kendra Duncan
Student Secretary

I first started working in the museum in 1996 as an undergraduate student when I got a job in the lichen lab with Dr. St. Clair. I have been on many lichen collecting trips all over Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Montana. I have so many memories of these trips and I enjoyed everyone of them. I have been associated with the museum in one way or another since that time. Currently I work with the student employees who serve as educators. I think the museum is cool not only because we have green carpet (its my favorite color), but because we have excellent exhibits which allow people to see animals up close (including Shasta the Liger). Not to mention the millions of specimens behind closed doors in our research collections. I love to watch and listen to little kids as the discover the wonders of nature that they can experience inside the Bean Life Science Museum.

March 24, 2008

Katy Knight
Education Coordinator

In the few years that I have worked here at the museum, first as a student, and now as part of the museum staff, I have learned many things and grown in many ways. I would like to take a moment to thank those that helped me get to where I am today. First I would like to thank Doug Cox for hiring me as a student and believing in me. I want to thank Marta Adair for listening to my ideas even though I was just a student and Katy Knight for always pushing me to do better. Also, Larry St Clair for making my current position possible, Jack Sites for teaching me how to work hard to learn, and Patty Jones for always being willing to listen to me regardless of what I have to talk about. I have to thank all the children whose wonder at the natural world makes my job so rewarding, and lastly, I would like to thank all the wonderful students I have worked with here at the museum. Their devotion to and love of their jobs makes the museum what it is to many people including me. The Monte L Bean Life Science Museum is truly a wonderful place to work and the staff here are wonderful people to work with.

March 21, 2008

Tashina Chipman
Education Specialist

When I was ten years old, I would ride my bike after school to the site of the museum construction, and watch the building slowly come together. My friends told me that they were going to have all sorts of animals in there including dinosaurs. I watched the workmen closely, and waited in great anticipation in hopes that I might catch a glimpse of a T. rex being lowered from a great crane into the atrium. I was of course misinformed about the types of animals the museum would house, but that experience helped establish in my mind what a wonderful and mysterious place the museum would be.

I remember clearly the day the museum opened the doors to the public for the very first time. The collections areas of the museum were opened for the public to tour through, and I was among the mass of people being shuffled through the various collections. I recall going through the herpetology collection and seeing Doug Cox handling a live snake. He even let me hold it. I remember walking through the insect collection, being fascinated by drawer after drawer of beetles, butterflies, and other bugs. They seemed so wondrous to me with all their shapes and colors and hues, and I had never known there were so many kinds of bugs in the world. I stopped at a drawer of honeybees and examined them more closely. They were all lined up like little soldiers, row after row of them, and the drawer was full. I recall thinking to myself, “why in the world does anyone need so many dead honeybees that all look the same?” Then I recall Stephen Wood telling me that just as everyone in the room looked a little bit different, all of the honeybees in that drawer looked different to an entomologist.

It was this experience that sparked my first real love of entomology, and as I became older, I had all sorts of experiences with the museum. Little did I know that some 30 years later, I would be responsible for all of the dead bugs, and that they would still fascinate me.

March 21, 2008

Michael F. Whiting
Curator of Insects

I worked here a few years ago when the elephant was being built. I got to watch the entire mounting proccess from beginning to end and I happend to be working the night that Skip, our taxidermist, finished putting the final touches on it. He told me and my co-worker that the scaffalding would be comming down and the display would be open the following day. He then asked if we would like to sit on top of it and take a picture before it all came down. Of course we did! We each took our turn climbing up and getting our picture taken. Climbing up was no easy task. First I climed onto the scaffolding, then up a ladder, and then I had to step onto Skip's hands and let him boost me the rest of the way up. It was a real stretch to straddle it, too, and the skin felt prickly. But it was all worth it! That was a great night and a great picture!

One time I had to go on an outreach to Eagle Mountain to do a Reptile Show. I got out of class late and ran up to the museum where one of my co-workers had everything ready to go. I grabbed the bags with the live animals and threw them in the back seat and we sped down the freeway trying to get threre on time. Just after I exited the freeway and took off on the highway I felt somthing brush against my toe. I was running late and didn't have time to stop and look. I didn't think too much about it until I felt somthing brush against my other foot. It was then that I looked down and saw, to my great surprise and horror, our California King Snake, Oliver, wrapped around both my feet and the break pedal! Oliver, it turns out, is an escape artist. He can get his head between the zippers and push them apart until he can slither out of his bag. (We now know that a well placed saftely pin is an effective solution to this problem.) Somehow, between my panic and fear of hurting the snake, I did manage to stop the car and untangle Oliver from my feet. I yelled at him for a good 5 minutes (none of which he heard or understood) until my heart rate dropped back down to normal and then put him and his bag on the front seat where I could keep an eye one him. We did make it to our show and back without further incident, but that is definently one trip I will never forget!

March 21, 2008

Melissa Landeen
Museum Educator

31 years ago I was working in an area behind the Museum’s exhibits in the Heber J. Grant building when I overheard a mother and her young 4 year old son conversing. The youngster was exited as he kept expressing his happiness to see all of the “animules”. I’m exited about “all of the animules” in the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum. It is always an adventure to be involved with this Museum from its beginning to now and to have known ML and Birdie Bean for a short time. Happy 30th Anniversary!

March 21, 2008

Wesley “Skip” Skidmore.
Museum Taxidermist and vertebrate collections manager

The museum has been a real blessing in my life during the past four or five years. I have had an interest in marine biology with special focus on molluscan taxonomy since childhood. My career has taken me in a different direction pursuing the disciplines of biochemistry and biophysics. Having the opportunity to assist with curation of the shell collection has therefore allowed me an avenue to use expertise and satisfy interests that would otherwise be neglected. An added benefit to my family is that I have been able to involve one of my sons who has also developed an affinity for shell classification. He was able to foster that interest with an Eagle Scout project and then participate with me in organizing and reclassifying parts of the collection. I appreciate very much the chance to continue to be involved and mentor students in this fascinating area of biology.

March 21, 2008

John Bell
Curator of Mollusks

I joined the BYU faculty in 1982, and as an after-thought was asked to curate the Herpetology collection. At the time there were no funds to support curatorial work, I had no released time to actually do the work, and the collection had not been actively curated for at least 4 years. Specimens of great scientific worth were dried in jars from which all fluid-preservative had evaporated and several hundred had to be re-hydrated, records of loans to other investigators were in disarray, and the catalog of numerical records was inaccurate. Since that time, funds have been made available (through the growth of museum endowments) for curation of all collections, curators have secured released time for their work in the research collections, and the museum now regularly also provides partial support for research-based field work and student mentoring. Several collections are now computerized and data bases are being developed for the others, and these collections are widely recognized in professional circles as comprising unique and irreplaceable resources for basic and applied research, conservation and management of natural resources, classroom teaching, and public education and outreach. The collections serve as an irreplaceable biodiversity library resource to the College of Life Sciences, Utah Valley, the Utah System of Higher Education, the people of the State of Utah, a broad range of state and federal resource management agencies, non-governmental organizations, and colleagues in the biological and conservation communities across the nation.

March 20, 2008

Jack W. Sites, Jr.
Maeser Professor of Biology and
Associate Director (Research and Curation),
M.L. Bean Life Science Museum

As a new hire at BYU I was excited to be appointed as an Assistant Curator in the museum. An added perk was the opportunity to attend the Museum Christmas Party each year. In my second year on the faculty I was recruiting a postdoctoral candidate to work in my lab. It happened that he was on campus at the same time as our Museum Christmas dinner, so invited him to join us. Not being accustomed to the BYU culture, I warned him ahead of time that this would be a ‘dry’ party. Imagine his surprise when Hal Black jumped to feet after dinner and began shaking his key ring calling for music. It wasn’t long until everyone had their keys out—the best surrogate available for sleigh bells—and was singing Christmas carols. With a somewhat surprised look on his face, my postdoc candidate turned to me and said, “Wow! All of this with no alcohol!”

March 20, 2008

Jerry Johnson
Assistant Curator of Fish

I have been formally associated with the museum for going on 20 years – as curator of nonvascular plants and now director. The M.L. Bean Life Science Museum is a remarkable place to visit and work! Over the last 18 months I have made it a point to regularly spend time simply walking around the museum and observing our patrons. The children, especially the younger ones are particularly interesting to watch. You can see the wonder and excitement in their faces as they approach the wolves just outside the museum offices. You can clearly see that they have this almost uncontrollable desire to reach out and touch the wolves’ snouts! I have often wondered if it was simply an issue of trying to see if they are really alive or just the pure excitement of seeing something so beautiful up close. In most cases fear seems to have nothing to do with their interest – rather an almost reverential awe seems to permeate their minds and hearts. Not occasionally, I see the same response in our adult patrons. Tragically, the older we get the more restrained and “mature” we tend to be with our excitement about the world around us – but even as adults the museum’s exciting and beautiful creatures bring us to our feet and restore the wonder to our hearts – come, come and enjoy the wonders of the museum let your heart feel the beauty and power of God’s creatures while your mind is renewed by their message of hope!!

March 20, 2008

Larry L. St. Clair
Professor of Biology &
Director, M.L. Bean Life Science Museum

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