The older Tyler Falls gets, the more the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History means to him.
Just 12 when his family relocated to the Seabright neighborhood of Santa Cruz, Tyler started visiting the Museum regularly, each time learning something new as he explored the changing exhibits. He remembers getting hooked on aspects of the region’s natural history or fascinated by nature-inspired art that graced the gallery walls.
“It’s just a really cool neighborhood museum,” said Tyler. “More and more, museums are very big in size. You don’t see many museums like this anymore.”
Eventually his family became Museum Members and his visits became more regular — every Saturday in fact, to help Education Manager Felicia Van Stolk feed tide pool animals featured in the Santa Cruz Naturalist Exhibit. And earlier this year, Tyler, now 14, and his mother, Connie Corona, were trained as docents to help with school programs and volunteer for future mobile museum outings.
Connie said the Museum helped the family learn about their new hometown, both through interesting talks and Museum-guided hikes in local open spaces.
“For anyone who wants to know about our region’s natural history, this is a huge gem,” Connie said, noting the Museum’s geology exhibit. “We learned that the entire area was once underwater.”
Starting with the new intertidal touch pools, Tyler said he has noticed a lot of change at the Museum since he first stepped inside in 2015. “In just the short time we have been coming here, the Museum has grown a lot,” he said. “It’s more open and modern.”
Now that Tyler is a little older, he and Connie also have been attending monthly Naturalist Night presentations on various natural history topics, which provides them even more content-rich knowledge for volunteering as docents.
“For any teenager who is interested in the natural world, there is no better way to spend an evening,” Connie said. “The programs are short and chocked full of information. Being a part of the Museum has been such a great experience for us.”