Display Nature’s Treasures

Bond Falls just across the Wisconsin state line in Michigan

Start by setting aside a spot to house and show off your nature treasures and projects. This needn’t be elaborate. While a table that can remain set up with your collections would be nice, a windowsill can easily be turned into an ever-changing exhibit space. A bulletin board is ideal for tacking up pictures and information, but the refrigerator works just as well with a good supply of strong magnets. Explore the possibilities of using pegboard or a free-standing oversized box to tape things on, or even a piece of string stretched taut from which items can be hung.

It’s fun to collect things that you find when you are out on walks, and, within the bounds of nature etiquette (only take what you really need, and leave plenty of flowers to reseed themselves, et cetera), you can bring home some of what you find.

You may discover that you have to design some creative storage solutions for everything you save! And don’t be quick to throw things away. . .

There is plenty of free stuff for the taking that can make your nature studies easy on your piggy-bank. Save paper and plastic goods (especially the boxes and containers that food, clothing, and shoes come wrapped in), and turn them into storage and display units. Look through the mail for pictures you can cut out.

Consider buying the ends of newsprint rolls which newspapers sell for only a few dollars. The width and continuous length are perfect for murals. (Used, continuous, computer print-out paper also works well.) This paper can also be shredded as bedding for small animals.

Be on the lookout for these and other items that can be used and reused. Recycling begins at home!

  • Shoe boxes
  • Berry boxes and baskets
  • Plastic bags
  • Jars, large and small
  • Cardboard boxes of various sizes
  • Catalogues and magazines
  • Film canisters
  • Styrofoam butcher’s trays
  • Egg cartons
  • Coffee cans
  • Deli containers
  • Plastic soda bottles
  • Yogurt and cottage cheese containers
  • Margarine tubs

Design Some Display and Storage Boxes

With a little imagination and tape and glue, you can turn all sorts of ordinary boxes into display cases and storage bins. Look around for containers that can be sectioned off to hold small items (such as rocks and insects); larger boxes can serve as filing cabinets or even temporary cages for small animals. Use interlocking strips of cardboard to divide the boxes into smaller specimen sections, or just mark the boxes with ruled lines if your collections will be glued in place. Save yogurt or sour cream containers for protecting individual specimens, and for planting seedlings and windowsill gardens.

[Image: Courtesy of Mike Crowley; available for sale at his website Life in the Northwoods]

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About the Author

Ray Smith is an author, lecturer, creative director and Senior Associate at Creative Brilliance, a full-service advertising and marketing communications company. He has been involved with northern Wisconsin tourism promotion and economic development for more than 20 years.

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