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New Educational Offerings Celebrate Beatrix Potter

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

This summer (July 28) marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of famed children’s author Beatrix Potter. Not only are we celebrating her sesquicentennial birthday, but in September, a newly discovered manuscript is scheduled to be released as a book.

Potter was so much more than just an author and illustrator of children’s books. The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) has developed a series of programs and materials that explore other, lesser known, aspects of her life to introduce concepts related to:

  • Scientific illustration (Potter produced over 300 scientifically accurate mushroom illustrations that were only published in a guidebook after her death)
  • Fungi reproduction (as part of her interest in mushrooms, she experimented and successfully germinated a variety spores while exploring fungi relationships to lichen)
  • Women in Science (she documented her fungal research in a paper that she was not allowed to personally present to London science meetings because she was a woman).
  • Women in Publishing (she self-published her first Peter Rabbit book and actively participated in all aspects of the printing, coloring, and binding).
  • Public land conservation (she used the profits from her children’s books to acquire over 4,000 acres of undeveloped lands in England’s Lake District which she left to the U.K. Public Trust, to be protected in perpetuity.
  • Public use of land (although she never had children of her own, she encourage Girl Guides, the British version of Girl Scouts, to camp on her beloved farms and lands.

The interest surrounding her sesquicentennial birthday will give our education staff a chance to introduce new audiences to the natural world. Programs are available for both children and adult audiences, including an accredited workshop for educators and a special presentation developed for public library summer reading programs. The detailed educators guide includes activities that go even deeper into the many fascinating aspect of Potter’s life, such as the coded journal she kept for 15 years that was only decoded years after her death, and her award winning work farming the unique Herdwick sheep.

The complete, 31-page educator’s guide, correlated to the Arkansas Department of Education Curriculum Frameworks, is available as a free download on the Education page of our site, where you will also find a Program Request form for workshops, classroom programs, and library programs.


Related content: Beatrix Potter: Mycologist, Artist, and Author

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