ID Day was co-sponsored by the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in partnership with the University of Michigan Natural History Museum, taking place on Sunday, October 8, 2023. Experts from a variety of fields, including paleontology, anthropology, archaeology, botany, zoology, and geology, were on hand to help visitors identify their treasures.
“As you see, while EEB students, staff and faculty represent a large percentage of the experts, many other units, such as EEB and the Museum of Paleontology, SEAS, Anthropology and UMMAA, and community groups such as the Friends of the UM Museum of Paleontology, also contributed,” said Kira Berman, assistant director for education at UMMNH. “I love the enthusiasm shown by the experts and the public! This program can really be transformative for the public, giving them a glimpse into the lives and interests of scientists and helping them develop their own interests. The faculty, staff, and graduate students are so enthusiastic, interested, and patient as they listen to the stories of the objects and help to identify them, and relate them to their research.”
The event offers a unique opportunity to learn about the importance of collections and what natural history collection research can tell us. Visitors can get help identifying shells, rocks and minerals, fossils, arrowheads and other stone tools, shards of pottery, vertebrate bone, insects, skulls, seeds, leaves, twigs, and fish.
ID Day is a huge success every year, with this year's attendance reaching a record-breaking 1,035 visitors. Many people came specifically for this event, bringing large specimens or collections of small specimens for identification. Even those who didn't bring anything to be identified were amazed by the glimpse they got into the U-M collections and the stories they heard about the research those collections make possible.
The enthusiasm shown by the experts and the public was contagious. The faculty, staff, and graduate students were patient and interested as they listened to the objects' stories and helped identify them, relating them to their own research.
For the research museums, this is an opportunity to share their collections and research with the public. These essential collections hold the answers to many pressing questions about how our world has changed and is still changing.
Many graduate students feel that this gives them valuable outreach and science communication experience, and they also enjoy passing along their enthusiasm. “It was a thrill to see the astonishment when visitors pick up a shell of an animal that they never imagined existed and appreciate the bizarre creatures that we share our planet with,” said Yu Kai Tan, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Ph.D. Student. “Mobilising collections to showcase biodiversity and having experts present to answer questions inspired by the objects reaffirm the value of natural history collections and the special expertise they harbor.”
Our ID Day event helps to inspire the next generation of scientists and experts, and it's a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. UMMNH and EEB want to express our thanks to everyone who helped to make this event possible.