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Letter from the 2008 President of the Board and executive director

Dear Friends,

Given the diversity of activities, programs, and projects that marked the life of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in 2007, it is sometimes difficult for our audiences, and even our own staff and trustees, to put one’s arms around this sprawling enterprise and identify in one word or one sentence the most central purpose of our museum.

children firsthand experiences of nature at our two campuses, thus giving them a new appreciation of the beaut , diversit , and fragility of nature while also preparing them for higher education in the natural sciences. Our public programs, such as the Sea Center’s Sustainable Seafood Program, are increasingly focused on how we can be responsible stewards of our natural resources.

  • e process of discovering and defining the answer to this

question began last year as we embarked on a concerted effort of strategic planning, designed to rethink our purpose as a natural history museum at the beginning of our institution’s 10th decade. We recognized that over the 150 years or so, since natural history museums first entered the public realm as prominent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions, the world we study and explain has changed profoundly.

A burgeoning human population, and our voracious appetite for energy, food, and industrial goods, has done such grave damage to the health of our natural systems and natural resources that our own future now faces great challenges. We realize that as a scientific and educational institution focused on understanding and explaining nature, we have a unique responsibility to help address these challenges, and we can bring unique resources to this task.

The dominant theme of the emerging strategic plan is “sustainability”– a focus that will underlie everything we do. For instance, new educational initiatives begun last year are offering

Additionally, our scientists are sharing the considerable knowledge they have with the community at large, such as the vast information embedded in our great collections archives of over three million objects. You can now access these archives on the web through www.sbcollections.org.

From the strategic planning efforts that we began last year springs a determination that, as a natural history museum in the early 21st century, we must embody the insight of Senegalese ecologist Baba Dioum who said: “For in the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”

Stephen M. Hicks Board President

Karl L. Hutterer Executive Director

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