From Norris Center We are aiming to raise $6,000 to honor the legacy of Randall Morgan and offer enriching experiences for UC Santa Cruz undergraduate students.
The Randall Morgan Collections
Randall Morgan, a Santa Cruz native and UCSC alumnus from the second
graduating class, dedicated his life to studying birds, plants and insects of Santa
Cruz County and advocating for protection of local biodiversity hotspots and
threatened species. His work has led to the recognition of several new taxa and legal
protection of numerous sensitive habitats including coastal prairie and sandhills sites (one of which is named after him). Morgan's collections are invaluable and irreplaceable resources. His voucher collection of over 10,000 plants and plant surveys from over 500 locations spanning the last 35 years forms the basis of our understanding of the current botanical diversity within the Santa Cruz Mountains and Central California. All his collections are accompanied by copious and detailed field notes making them a critical resource for understanding Santa Cruz natural history and documenting recent environmental changes. Morgan's influence extends far beyond his personal curiosity. He has mentored numerous local naturalists, land managers, faculty and students. He shared his biodiversity expertise with the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County to inform A Conservation Blueprint (2011), a comprehensive assessment of and recommendations for ways to protect and enhance the resources of the county for future generations.
Collaboration with the Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History
The Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History at UC Santa Cruz supports field-based natural history training, the curation of key natural history collections, and research projects and publications. Consistent with Morgan’s passion, its goals are to serve and educate natural history learners, researchers, and professionals both on and off campus. For the past 15 years, the Norris Center has housed Morgan’s plant and insect collections, field notes, and maps. With Morgan’s guidance, Norris Center staff, faculty, students, and community volunteers have worked to preserve, analyze, and publicize these vital resources.
Although significant progress has been made, there is a huge amount of work to be done to fully extract the information contained within Morgan’s collections so that it can be utilized by researchers and conservation scientists. The Norris Center’s goals include fully identifying all specimens, making specimen and associated observational data easily accessible via web-based databases, and involving students and researchers in projects using Morgan’s methods and study sites. Ultimately, these efforts would be used to promote education and conservation of local species and ecosystems.
Endowing Randall Morgan’s Collections and Legacy to Santa Cruz Natural History
The Randall Morgan Collections and Santa Cruz Natural History Initiative was developed in
consultation with Morgan himself in spring 2017. The Initiative aims to honor, preserve, and build upon the legacy of Morgan’s own projects and collections. It will provide for stewardship of the collections and afford students the opportunity to develop similar observational and taxonomic skills at environmentally sensitive sites in the county. In order to make this a reality, we are fundraising to bring the internship opportunities to life.
Each student will be provided a $1,500 stipend to work on the mission set out by Morgan. Two students will work within the Norris Center, focusing on processing the collections and field information. Another two students will be placed in the field to collaborate with local naturalists, learning about the collection and conservation of our local natural world.
Opportunities like these are critical for the development of our students and enhancing understanding. Hands-on experiential education provides real-world applications of concepts learned in the classroom, setting undergraduates up for success when applying their knowledge to the community and workforce. We are aiming to raise $6,000 to honor the legacy of Randall Morgan and offer an enriching experiences for UC Santa Cruz undergraduate students.