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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Beyond origins: A celebration of Darwin’s legacy on Darwin Day

Ecology and evolutionary biology students extend an invitation to the community for a celebration of Charles Darwin

The Texas A&M community will have a chance to celebrate “all things biology” and interact with animals they do not find in their day-to-day lives.

Darwin Day 2024 will unfold at The Gardens on March 1, from 5–8 p.m., offering an open invitation to the public for this family event. Attendance is free for all and for those interested in a more comprehensive exploration, additional historical insights and information can be found on the official Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program website.

Doctoral program coordinator Heather Baldi, Ph.D., said Darwin Day itself has “evolved” over the years at A&M and they have doubled the number of booths from last year.

 “We expose the general public to science that they might not be aware of,” Baldi said. “We are celebrating all things biology and we are sharing that with the general public.”

Ecology and conservation biology doctoral candidate Oluwaseun Ajileye, also an organizing committee member, said Darwin Day was planned to celebrate and appreciate the “father” of ecology and evolution and his contributions to the community.

“[The] main vision of the event [is to] invite the members of the public, make them aware of science and how things have evolved in the natural world,” Ajileye said. “There will be so many family-friendly activities. Live animals like snakes, mammals and birds will also be there to interact with.”

Engage with fascinating creatures and explore the spirit of Darwin Day. (Photo courtesy of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program)

Ajileye said he encourages participants to ask the experts questions about anything related to the natural sciences. Ecology and evolutionary biology doctoral candidate Bhagya Weththasinghe, an organizing committee member, said she is volunteering to engage young students.

“Anyone who is curious — such as high school kids — will have the opportunity to interact with professors and graduate students and to gain knowledge on what we research,” Weththasinghe said. “The scavenger hunt will be so much fun to do. You can go to each booth that relates to the Tree of Life and win a reward at the end.”

Weththasinghe said she expects up to 800 participants based on last year’s event. Ecology and evolutionary biology doctoral candidate Adeyinka Adeyemi, who is on the organizing committee as well, said the participants will have the chance to hold or touch reptiles in different booths.

“We talked about ways to sustain the momentum and impact on the participants they gain on science,” Adeyemi said. “Showing more of [the] microscopic world — things that they do not see every day, related to evolution — we are bringing these.”

Adeyemi said her participation in last year’s event made her volunteer for this year’s organizing committee so she could share the excitement she felt. Entomology first-year graduate Earl Agpawa said it is going to be a thrilling experience from what he has seen from the flyers about Darwin Day.

“One of my favorite things is to see all the animals they have on display, especially the herpetofauna,” Agpawa said. “It will be nice to see other people interested in those animals.”

Baldi said after Darwin Day there also will be an ecological integration symposium on April 4-5 as a continuation of the steps they have taken from this student-led outreach program.

“It is people within the community that come out in this event,” Baldi said. “It evolved from not just being within the university but within the community as a whole.” 

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    RPHMar 2, 2024 at 6:04 am