Thoughts from a Collections Assistant

January 9, 2020 Research & Conservation

My journey with Denver Botanic Gardens began in the spring of 2016 after graduating from Fort Lewis College. I joined the Research and Conservation Department as an applied conservation intern with a primary focus on the Deer Creek restoration project at Chatfield Farms. After two summers of working in seasonal positions, I started working on a Master’s of Science degree through the University of Colorado Denver in partnership with the Gardens under the advisement of Dr. Rebecca Hufft, the associate director of applied conservation. I am on track to complete this degree in the spring of 2020 and I am eager to apply all that I have learned to my continuing work at the Gardens.

Each semester as a graduate student, I have worked at the Gardens as research assistant. For the fall 2019 semester, thanks to funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for America program (Federal Award Identification Number MA-30-18-0410-18), I served as a student assistant in the natural history collections helping with preparation for the move into the Freyer – Newman Center.

The Gardens houses three different types of natural history collections: plants, fungi, and arthropods. To ensure that these historical specimens are efficiently moved while maintaining their scientific integrity, I, along with the rest of the research and conservation team, have been working diligently to account for each collection’s unique needs and considerations. For example, the 20,000 individual fungal specimens needed to be individually wrapped in protective, archival tissue paper and photographed before they can be moved to their new home.

Due to the enormous demands of moving our natural history collections, the majority of efforts in the Research and Conservation Department have been focused on special projects. Move preparations have meant that normal specimen processing has come to a halt. The priority is to get our collections ready to be moved with the intention that normal specimen processing will continue in the Freyer – Newman Center.

Spending more time in the natural history collections has allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for the amount of dedicated resources that go into making and maintaining the collections. Being a part of the research and conservation team has been an incredibly humbling and powerful experience. I am so proud to be working to preserve, protect and celebrate Colorado’s biodiversity.

This blog post was written by Margo Paces, graduate student and botany seasonal.


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