When you walk down the path at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, you can’t miss the giant model dinosaurs, but you might overlook some of the more than 130 species of birds. That’s okay. Ranger Greg sees all of them and more, and he shares many of his observations with visitors all year long.
Ranger Greg, despite his New Jersey upbringing, has found a real home at the Museum of Life and Science. The first thing you notice about him, besides his big grey beard, is that he knows nature like an old friend. Striding down the path, he points out a plant that comes apart like legos, or a caterpillar sealed inside the fold of a leaf. It’s all in the details. Maintaining the trails and helping museum-goers may be his job, but it’s also his talent and passion.
“Helping [people] discover something that they’ve never experienced before is the biggest inspirational aspect of working here at the museum,” Greg says.
As we walk along the boardwalk, some of the showstoppers include the Dawn Redwood, a tree thought to be extinct until rediscovered in the 1940’s. Then Greg points out the Grape Holly, a plant full of edible berries perfect for jam-making. That dirt pit over there, he shows us, is imported from quarry and is full of fossils, bones, and sharks’ teeth. Perfect for aspiring archaeologists of all ages.
The Walk of the Week Takes Shape
For over a year, Greg and the staff have helped produces a new walk, and it helps you think like Ranger Greg. On Monday, the staff shares a clue to help you discover something you might otherwise miss. Take the walk, solve the mystery. Get some fresh air and some exercise, too. The Walk of the Week is sponsored by BCBSNC, and kicked off in June 2014 with a ribbon cutting ceremony and inaugural walk.
The Walk of the Week is an easy way to stay active while having a fun time. Explore the paths, see the animals, and get your steps in for the day. At an average length of .4 miles, the trails are an achievable length for all ages.
When asked how Walk of the Week affects museum-goers, Ranger Greg explains how it makes people take a second look at nature: “I watch people walk those same trails, unaware of what’s going around them… Walk of the Week not only provides the walker exercise, but… they learn something.”
Other Hidden Gems
Wondering what other exhibits to check out? Ranger Greg recommends Explore the Wild. He asserts that “with the red wolves, black bears, and lemurs on display, it’d be a mistake not to visit [it].” Still, his true passion remains for everything beyond the fence.
He’s always on the lookout for some of the 13 species of frogs and toads, or one of the 39 species of odonata (dragonflies and damselflies). All of his best findings are carefully documented on his blog. You can’t help but laugh at his tale about a lost, and very grumpy, snapping turtle.
Even after years of walking the same paths, Ranger Greg sees something new every time. Make it your goal to spot one of them on your next Walk of the Week.