By Lindsay Nemelka
Sometimes we are all so focused on getting from one side of campus to the other in less than the five minutes that class starts, that we don’t raise our heads from our snow-covered shoes to notice what’s around us.
1. Insect Museum
The second floor of the Biology and Natural Resource building boasts one of the top 10 insect collections in the world. Terry Griswold, Adjunct Professor and Research Entomologist, runs the bee-side of the busy museum and said they have over a million bees.
The top-tier collection holds bees from around the world including places such as Iran and Australia. “We’re describing many new species of bees from Utah and around the world,” said Griswold. Parasitic bees and pollen collectors, bees from national parks, as well as bees reared right here on campus are included. Don’t just picture yellows and blacks; the bees come in more colors than believed possible—like metallic green, and range from 3 mm to 3 cm long. The collection is in the process of being digitized to be made available to researchers around the world.
Want to check it out?
Students are welcome to call ahead and make an appointment.
2. Gun Shed
Ok, so this building doesn’t actually house guns, but according to Robert Parson of the Special Collections part of the library, that’s most likely what it was used for in the past.
Old Main once contained an armory where the military science department kept guns under lock and key in the 1890s. Because weapon drills were a class requirement up until the 50’s, many were performed out on the quad. Built in 1934, the Gun Shed was probably an indoor firing range before the military science building took over its role with a built-in basement range.
Stanley Kane, Director of Campus Maintenance Operations said the Gun Shed was remodeled after it fell into disrepair to be used for interior design studios around 1997. Instead of guns, the building now holds children. Family Home Consumer Sciences uses a large part of the building for child education and daycare. The building is located behind Ray B. West and has a fun playground in back.
3. Poisonous Plants
The Agriculture Research Service (ARS) Poisonous Plants Research Laboratory contains plants toxic to livestock, wildlife and humans. The goal of the lab is to identify plant toxins that are harmful to livestock and promote animal health. Though the lab contains national and international plant research, their primary focus is places in the U.S. where large livestock losses occur due to plant toxins.
Kip Panter, director of the laboratory, said that even though plants are deemed “toxic” we shouldn’t always worry. Many plants around us, even ones in our garden are toxic to one species or another. “Most plants have toxic substances in them, that’s how plants survive. It’s when toxic plants poison animals—that’s when we get involved,” said Panter.
The herbarium at the Poisonous Plants Research Laboratory contains 4-5,000 dangerous plants. Tours of the garden are available to students (and scout groups wishing to earn their plant-identification badges) to show off the various species. The best time to see the garden, said Panter, is in the spring and early summer when everything is in full bloom.
Students should call and make a tour appointment.
1150 E. 1400 N.
4. Outdoor Amphitheater
If you haven’t walked up the 97 steps up the A Day ’44 trail of Old Main Hill, you probably wouldn’t have noticed the 2,003 square foot concrete stage and wooden benches tucked away on the south corner.
The amphitheater was built by students using mostly student gift funds under the employment of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration in 1935, and was seen as “one of the most attractive sites in America with its overlook of Cache Valley,” according to USU Facilities’ documents. After falling into disrepair, it was fixed up by the Management and Human Resources 3110 class in October 2008 for a benefit concert. Since then it has been used to hold poetry readings, battle of the bands concerts, and Humans vs. Zombie mission rendezvous.
5. Singing Shoes
The Klompen exhibit in the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art is made up of 96 wooden Dutch clogs that play melodies. This permanent addition to the museum is a sound-sculpture by the Seattle artist Trimpin, and consists of an array of clogs of various designs and sizes which are hung from the ceiling with wires. Mallets in the toe are triggered electronically to make a sound unique to the design of each shoe. To start the show, place a quarter into the token box and hear one of 20 compositions.
Mon-Fri 10:00-5:00, Sat 11:00-4:00
Call ahead to schedule your tour because many USU classes come through!
Photos: Klompen, 1987 by Trimpin. Mixed media sculpture. Permanent collection of the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Marie Eccles Caine Foundation, Gift. Photos provided by Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art.