Rhode Island Natural History Week

Lucy Spelman, DVM, RISD, spoke at the 2017 Natural History Week celebration, her title: “Art Can Save a Panda.”

Every fall we recognize Rhode Island Natural History Week, and we celebrate with events, news stories, and promotions that call attention to the state’s ‘natural history infrastructure’ . . . great institutions such as the Natural History Museum and Planetarium, Zoo, and Botanical Center, all in Roger Williams Park in Providence, the herbarium and the Ladd Observatory at Brown, Biomes Marine Biology Center, Audubon Nature Center and Aquarium, Frosty Drew Nature Center, Edna Lawrence Nature Lab at RISD, university and college departments, and more.

Rhode Island is home to at least 18,000 species of macroscopic life which make up our natural areas and give us food and recreation, provide clean water and air, and bring us joy . . . or that cause disease and damage crops. Natural History is a discipline, practiced since ancient times, that uses observation and comparison to learn useful information about animals, plants, ecological communities, and geological systems.

We rely on resources available at institutions that don’t often get a lot of attention but should. And that’s why we celebrate Natural History Week in Rhode Island every fall.


Whereas, natural history is a discipline, practiced since classical times, through which we learn about animals, plants, ecological communities, and geological systems; and

Whereas, natural history emphasizes observation and comparison of living organisms and natural habitats; and

Whereas, any curious person, with training and support, can make valuable natural history contributions to our knowledge of Rhode Island’s environment; and

Whereas, natural history investigations carried out in Rhode Island teach us important lessons about environmental relationships and systems in Rhode Island and throughout the world; and

Whereas, knowledge of these environmental relationships and systems enables us better to manage, conserve, utilize, and enjoy Rhode Island’s natural resources; and

Whereas, by supporting better management, conservation, utilization, and enjoyment of natural resources and by engaging people of all ages in first-hand exploration of their environment, the practice and appreciation of natural history is beneficial to Rhode Island and its citizens; and

Now, therefore we do hereby proclaim Natural History Week in Rhode Island and encourage all state residents to join in recognizing the importance of this week.

Museum of Natural History & Planetarium, Roger Williams Park, founded in 1896, during the golden age of systematic-collection building, is Rhode Island’s only natural history museum and its only public planetarium.

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