If you visit the American Museum of Natural History this summer, you might run into some college students native to the Bronx who are part of a program where they guide hundreds of camp group visitors on unusual, one-of-a-kind tours through the halls of the American Museum of Natural History.
The program is called the Museum Education and Employment Program (MEEP) and participants create imaginative guided tours for day campers through the amazing world of dinosaurs, apes and tigers, meteorites and more, adding a personal touch to their Museum visit.
MEEP provides on-the-job training and exposure to careers in science, museum education, and related fields. These kids work closely with Museum scientists and educators exploring scientific content and learning valuable skills for working with and teaching learners of all ages.
Two of those Bronx natives include:
Wilson Hernandez, 21, a junior studying astronomy, physics and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, has loved looking at the stars since he was six years old growing up in the Bronx. His tour on Planet Formation takes campers on a trek through the cosmos, covering the Cullman Hall of the Universe, the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth and the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites. In his spare time, Wilson enjoys playing the guitar and trumpet. In addition to Portuguese, he also speaks Spanish and a smattering of Japanese. He is considering whether he wants to continue his studies in astrophysics or switch to doing data analysis for nonprofits.
Justyn Simmons, 22,a senior studying physical anthropology at CUNY Stony Brook, is a Bronx native. Those participating in his Primate Behavior tour learn the different forms of monkey and ape locomotion from prehensile tails to quadrupedalism (with kids encouraged to try their hand at knuckle-walking), and explore details of primate diets, coloration, and sexual dimorphism, as campers travel from the Hall of Primates to the Ackley Hall of African Mammals. His favorite fun fact: Gibbons are the fastest non-flying arboreal mammals! A comic book collector and longboard skater, Justyn plans on pursuing a career in museum education or perhaps primate conservation.
So if you find yourself on a tour at AMNH, you might just be with one of Bronx’s finest.