The Tallahassee Museum Needs Your Help Naming Our Newest Animals
To submit your vote, click here!
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (8/22/2023) – The Tallahassee Museum is thrilled to announce the recent arrival of two new animals. Over the past few weeks, the Animal Team has worked to introduce a one-year old American Guinea Hog and a six-month-old Florida Cracker Sheep to the farm.
American Guinea Hogs are a rare breed of pig, unique to North America and are the ideal heritage farm pig due to their small size and docile nature. Our new male will be a companion to Olive, who is almost 3 years old.
Florida Cracker Sheep are one of the oldest breeds in North Florida brought over by the Spanish to the southern states in the 1500’s. Our new male will be a companion to Ginger, who is 3 years old.
The Museum invites the community to help us name our two new animals. Votes can be submitted online here. Each vote is $1 as a donation towards the Tallahassee Museum. The Tallahassee Museum inspires people to transform their lives, community and the world through an enhanced understanding of our region’s natural and cultural environments.
Voting will end at 8:00pm on Sunday, September 3, 2023 where the names with the most votes will be chosen and announced on Facebook and Instagram. Available names to vote include:
- Florida Cracker Sheep: Graham, Triscuit, Toffee, Gordon
- American Guinea Hog: Finn, Otis, Wyatt, Socks
To submit your vote, click here!
We invite you to visit the Tallahassee Museum and say hello to our new arrivals over the following weeks in conjunction with our American Alliance of Museum’s (AAM) Re-Accreditation Celebrations.
- FREE ADMISSIONS DAY on September 30, 2023
- $10/off Friends and Family Membership for NEW Members until September 30, 2023.
- BOGO (Buy One Get One) on Tree to Tree Adventures for general publicand members until September 30, 2023.
- Members ONLY Social: Come out and sit on the Bellevue lawn while enjoying a delicious Kona ICE on September 23, 2023 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
- Exclusive events for upper level members and donors including behind-the-scenes tours and wine and cheese receptions.
Still searching for that perfect gift? We asked some of our Museum staff shoppers to tell us about their favorite items in the Tallahassee Museum Store this holiday season.
The Museum Store is always stocked with locally sourced, handcrafted, and ageless gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list. You can purchase any of the gift guide items at the Museum Store or for more information on a specific item call 850-575-8684. The store is open during regular Museum operating hours. The Museum is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Sara Buker, Junior Teacher
Recently, Sara earned her National Child Development Certification while working as a Junior Teacher at the Tallahassee Museum Preschool. Sara has worked hard over the past few years to reach this goal, and we are proud to have her as a member of our Early Childhood program! “Sara is a huge asset to our program, and this is a wonderful accomplishment!” said Karen Gay, Manager of Early Childhood Education at the Tallahassee Museum.
Lauryn Collier, Marketing and Event Assistant
Lauryn was crowned USA National Miss Florida earlier this year, and her platform is “Education all around. Mentorship on the ground”. She is currently a spokesperson and partner with the United Way of Florida. She is focused on education through early learning and literacy, mentorship of kids in the community, access to healthcare and education on healthy lifestyle choices, and emergency preparedness. As a state title holder for the USA National Miss Scholarship Organization and pageant system, she is also charged with raising awareness for The Crown C.A.R.E.S., which is an anti-bullying organization.
Averi Deering, Education Registration Manager
Averi has a long history with the Tallahassee Museum. She began this relationship as a young camper, prior to becoming a youth counselor in her teens. After holding various part-time positions at the Tallahassee Museum as an adult, she has been promoted to the full-time position of Registration Manager within the Education Department. Now, Averi handles all program and group reservations, including field trips, workshops, and birthday parties. She brings a wealth of institutional knowledge and a creative approach to the incredibly efficient manner in which she conducts daily business.
Natasha Hartsfield, Director of Education
Natasha is the Director of Education at the Tallahassee Museum, and very active in our community. Most recently she was appointed to the New Leaf Market Board of Directors, and she also serves as the Interim Chair of the Board for Get Outdoors Florida. When she is not at the Museum or serving on one of her various boards, you can find Natasha in her backyard working on her small organic vegetable and medicinal garden or making soap for her new company Sassafras Soapery, which was chosen as a vendor for the 2016 Market Days at the North Florida Fairgrounds, Dec. 3 and 4.
In the summer of 1976, the Museum needed someone to develop its new animal program. There were a few animals in the Museum’s collection at the time, and due to limited resources, the animals were all housed in pens or cages. The Museum leadership invited a young state park ranger and animal care specialist, Mike Jones, to come down from South Carolina to visit. Jones instantly fell in love with the Museum and the property.
“The grounds here were just beautiful, there was so much potential for a natural habitat-style zoo,” said Jones in a recent interview. “The lakefront and cypress swamp were already landscaped by nature.”
Jones also appreciated the Museum’s mission and focus to preserve and tell the stories of the native wildlife in the North Florida region.
“It is important to know about Sumatran rhinos and all of the other species that are endangered around the world, but we have plenty of animals right here at home that are in trouble.” said Jones. “Florida’s delicate ecosystem and aquifer are feeling pressure from humans like never before, and it is so important that we don’t lose sight of this fact while we are pursuing our daily lives and activities.”
Shortly after his visit, Jones was offered a position as the Museum’s animal curator. Jones got to work right away expanding the Museum’s animal program. He had only
planned to spend three to five years in Tallahassee. Fate had another plan.
“Tallahassee captured me.” said Jones.
“I joined a band, and we have played music for many years. The longer I was in Tallahassee, the more I felt tied to this community.”
Over the last forty years, Jones and his animal department team took the Museum’s native animal cllection from 25 animals to over 130. They have also built much larger natural habitats and enclosures for the Museum’s wildlife. The Museum has also participated in the red wolf recovery effort since 1988 and has worked with government agencies and conservation research with other native species.
“We had a bobcat that been in a small cage for 10 or 12 years before I arrived, and it was so nice to introduce him to the new bobcat habitat where he could rest in the trees ,” said Jones.
Jones said it has been very gratifying to work at the Museum, and has enjoyed meeting and knowing so many remarkable people who have worked at the Museum, as well as the many visitors and children…….and some fabulous animals!
“The more we can educate the public about the animals they are sharing the land with, the more effective we all will be at maintaining our precious natural resources.”
The Museum reopened its three Tree To Tree Adventures courses Wednesday, October 5, after installing new challenge course technology called Quick Trekker Continuous Belay System. This new system upgraded the courses’ original red line cabling system and now enables clients to attach their safety equipment–lanyards and carabiners–to the new safety life line only once, at the beginning of the course and never disconnecting again until they exit the course.
“This new technology will greatly enhance the safety of our clients,” said Russell Daws, president and CEO of the Tallahassee Museum.
“Tallahassee Tree To Tree Adventures’ guide staff will also be able to focus more on creating engaging and memorable experiences through dialog with clients and taking photos, rather than constantly watching the clipping and unclipping process like they were required to do before.”
The Museum hired American Adventure Park Systems to complete the upgrade project, which took approximately 10 days to complete.
“The incorporation of the Quick Trekker Continuous Belay System demonstrates the Museum’s commitment to having Tallahassee Tree To Tree Adventures as a leader in the field of aerial adventure courses, which will only further support the reputation of the Museum and Tree To Tree Adventures to our current, potential and future visitors and support the destination marketing efforts of the Museum, Visit Tallahassee and Visit Florida,” said Daws.
Since the Tallahassee Tree To Tree Adventures course opened in 2012, over 100,000 visitors of various ages and fitness levels have experienced nature from a bird’s eye perspective, built their self-confidence, accomplished a sense of achievement, and have exercised both their minds and bodies. Tallahassee Tree To Tree Adventures has also greatly contributed to the Museum’s efforts to better serve this community’s teen-age, college-age and young professional audiences’ needs and interests.
For more information about our courses, visit www.treetoreeadventures.com
Tallahassee Museum education staff and volunteers have been putting on the Halloween Howl event for over two decades. This spooktacular two-night event is the Museum’s largest on-grounds fundraiser, and the event’s quarter-mile Haunted Trail is a huge crowd pleaser, with over 1200 people experiencing the Trail each year.
Last year, approximately 2000 volunteer hours were spent creating and planning the Haunted Trail, which takes place on the Museum’s wooded nature loop that runs along Lake Hiawatha. According to Haunted Trail volunteer and coordinator Jeff Horton, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into creating and planning out the Trail that most people don’t know about.
“We design and construct the sets, hand craft many of the props, recruit volunteers, do lighting design, and a host of other activities related to the Trail,” said Horton.
Horton says most of the props on the Museum’s Haunted Trail are hand-made by the core volunteer team, and constructed out of recycled and biodegradable materials. Many materials are salvaged or picked specifically because of its low impact on the environment.
“We try to re-purpose or reuse as much as we can. One man’s trash is our treasure. It’s not 100%, but we work hard at it.”
Horton, who is the director of the Institute for Applied Business Research at the FSU College of Business said he always loved Halloween and the Tallahassee Museum.
“Volunteering with Halloween Howl was a good way for me to get involved with the Museum,” said Horton.
Horton’s core team includes Rob Barrett, Ann Durham, Bob Durham, and Joel Allbritton, but they’re not alone. Other volunteers make a significant contribution in smaller but critical ways.
“We sink approximately 200 two by fours in the ground as part of the set construction, and each one of those holes is dug by hand.”
Overall, the Halloween Howl event utilizes over 500 volunteers and close to 8000 volunteer hours throughout the month of October. Volunteers help sort and decorate the grounds, facilitate games and activities on the nights of the event, as well as break down all decorations in the days and weeks to follow.
Natasha Hartsfield, Director of Education says the success of the Halloween Howl event would not be possible without volunteers like Horton and Barrett.
“Jeff Horton and Rob Barrett have inspired other volunteers to return each year and give their time to making Halloween Howl a success. Jeff’s leadership not only inspires teamwork, but also maintains a well-thought out and organized plan well ahead of the event. We are truly grateful for all the time and effort he has put forth to the Haunted Trail over the years.”
Barrett has coordinated the Haunted Trail together with Horton since 2013 and previously held other volunteer positions with Halloween Howl. Bob and Ann Durham both previously coordinated the Trail from 2008 – 2012.
“I think one of the truly important things to note is that this is a completely volunteer-driven endeavor,” said Horton. “It takes about 15-20 minutes to walk the Trail, but that 15-20 minute experience requires hundreds of hours of preparation.”
TALLAHASSEE, FL (May 12, 2016) – Rebekka Wade has been named vice president/chief operations officer of the Tallahassee Museum, one of Florida’s leading museums. Wade, who joined the Museum as director of finance four years ago, will assist president and CEO Russell Daws with strategic planning and operations management. Wade, the first female vice president in the museum’s 59-year history, will be charged with promoting an organizational culture of high performance and continuous improvement that values learning and a commitment to quality.
“Rebekka’s leadership and accomplishments have had a significant and positive impact on the Museum’s financial and retail operations, human resources, risk management and IT operations,” Daws said. “In her new position, she will be the chief business officer, responsible for planning, managing, and directing the Museum’s administrative and financial operations.”
Wade will recommend policies and procedures to more effectively and efficiently operate the Museum in collaboration with directors, managers and administrative staff.
Wade was recently accepted into the Jekyll Island Management Institute, a nationally recognized museum management training program, through which she completed an intensive two-week training in January.
“Her selection and participation in this program will further our efforts to build the Museum’s institutional capacity and raise our stature nationally,” Daws said.
Suzie Buzzo Named Assistant Curator of Animals at the Tallahassee Museum
TALLAHASSEE, FL (May 12, 2016) – Suzie Buzzo has been named assistant curator of animals at the Tallahassee Museum, one of Florida’s leading museums. In her new position Buzzo will oversee, track and manage the department’s operational activities and projects. Her responsibilities include assisting in planning, scheduling, and implementing construction, repair and maintenance of animal exhibits; working with and advising the education staff on the proper care and use of the education animal collection; and assisting the animal curator in budget preparation and monitoring.
Buzzo has served the Museum for 15 years, initially as a part-time animal care assistant, then as a full-time animal keeper, and for the past 12 years as animal care supervisor/registrar.
“Suzie has done an excellent job in maintaining our animal records, building our intern and volunteer program within the animal department, providing supervision and direction to our animal keeper staff, and providing support to Mike Jones, our animal curator,” said president and CEO Russell Daws. “Her promotion to this position not only recognizes her accomplishments but also her potential to be an important contributor to the Museum’s interpretive plan goals and objectives and to contribute to making the Museum’s future vision a reality,”
In February Buzzo attended the one-week Association of Zoos and Aquarium program, “Managing for Success: Career Development,” in Wheeling W.Va. The program examines management disciplines with emphasis on their application to zoos and aquariums. There she gained practical tools and skills to bring back to the Museum, including an increased network of resources and heightened leadership skills.
“From Neotropical Forest Floor to Canopy” is a multispecies exhibit of Neotropical animals native to South and Central America open to the public through the end of April. The group includes red-rumped agoutis, brilliant blue and gold macaws, tortoises, guans, and last but not least, a Hoffman’s two-toed sloth.
Last summer, the wonderful generosity of our donors has allowed us to rebuild the red wolf viewing area. We are very excited to announce that this area is now open to the public! Going even further, our staff just completed the process of developing, designing, and implementing an entirely new interpretive story that was added to the red wolf viewing area this past spring. Be sure to visit these amazing creatures in their updated exhibit this summer!
There truly is something for everyone at the Tallahassee Museum! To all of our adult visitors out there, did you know that we provide monthly adult workshops and classes? Join us for “Canning Tomatoes” (June 14th), “Making and Canning Salsa Fresca” (June 21st) and “Making and Canning Peach Preserves” (July 12th).
For more information and to register, click here.