The Joseph Moore Museum student staff is encouraged to take on projects and innovate in the museum. Senior Biology major Eliza Hudson has been interested in educational gardens after her experience working at SEEDS NC, an educational garden in her home state of North Carolina. She has worked for the museum for three years, and returned to the museum this spring after studying abroad in Tanzania. We caught up with Eliza on a Friday afternoon to ask her about her plans for a pollinator garden near the museum.
Joseph Moore Museum: Eliza, what got you interested in making a pollinator garden for the museum?
Eliza Hudson: Good question, honestly, the idea of having a pollinator garden on campus came up when one of the museum director candidates mentioned the idea last spring. I thought it would be a great chance for a lot of what we theorize about at Earlham to be put into practice win a really great way.
JMM: What is a pollinator garden?
EH: Basically its a garden or a plant community that is designed to draw in pollinators like bees, butterflies, flying insects of all kinds. It can also draw in birds like hummingbirds and other animals. Its a space to teach especially kids about the interactions and complexities of natural systems, especially using things they are most used to like gardens.
JMM: What sorts of things have you been planning so far?
EH: Right now I am making a Wiki page for museum staff to access in the future to bring together resources about the garden and to use for bringing together things to consider in the planning and maintenance of this garden as well as coming up with ideas for outdoor exhibits. I’m doing research on the internet right now about outdoor exhibits at other museums and also meeting with lots of people on campus who are working on the science building renovation to pool resources to make the best garden space for everyone. The hope is that my work this semester will get the ball rolling on this project, and hopefully, if the museum can do so in the future, there may be a student worker dedicated to working on the pollinator garden, possibly in partnership with the greenhouse or the center for environmental action. We’d like it to be incorporated into the mission of the museum and into museum tours.
JMM: What sorts of unique challenges are posed to museums hoping to develop gardens or outdoor exhibits?
EH: The maintenance aspect is big, in that we need to plan how to have the workforce necessary to maintain a garden, we also need to devote resources to developing curriculum and signage around the garden. Its challenging because the potential is so big. At Earlham there are challenges in communicating with all the people involved in a project like this because it is still in the beginning stages and so coordination can be tough.
JMM: If you could come back in 10 years and see your dream pollinator garden at Earlham, what would it look like?
EH: It wouldn’t have to be a very big garden, but it would be healthy, vibrant and really well used. It would be well integrated into the museum’s indoor exhibits and infrastructure. I would hope it wouldn’t just be used on tours but would be a place that people walking by would be able to sit back, appreciate, and really learn from.
JMM: Are there any resources out there on the internet for people interested in learning more about pollinator gardens?
EH: I’ve been using pollinator.org quite a bit, it is a great introduction to the issues of pollinator decline and has great resources for homeowners and info on why pollinators are important. I think that UC Davis has a Bee Garden that is really cool, I think it was designed by a student as part of a competition too! I’m interested in learning more about local gardens in Ohio and Indiana, so if folks have any ideas for resources in those areas they’d like to tell me about please comment here! E-mail me to get involved!