Profiles of Humans in Nature: Montana Natural History Center

Humans in Nature strives to combine applied research within outreach efforts to connect individuals of all ages to the natural environment. We wanted to hear from other organizations and communities on how they connect with others and develop a relationship surrounding nature. We interviewed Anka Rashed at the Montana Natural History Center (MNHC) in Missoula, MT, to hear more about what she does for MNHC and how they connect people with nature.

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Common and Ambiguous Scents of the Outdoors

According to Jan Holden (2006), “smell influences the brain functions that link memory, behavior, and emotion”. When people smell particular objects from the outdoors, ideas and existing memories flow into their heads. For instance, when people smell flowers, there is a general consensus that it has a pleasant floral smell. We give flowers on Valentine’s day or place them on the graves of our loved ones due to their lovely sight and aroma. Therefore, it isn’t uncommon for everyone to agree that flowers are just floral, blissful plants. However, not all scents conjure the same image for everyone.

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Plant Behavior: Do Plants Have Perceptions of their Environment?

By now, everyone has probably heard Ivan Pavlov’s name in a Psychology class when discussing classical conditioning. His experiment with his dogs was revolutionary. What if this experiment was carried out with plants— and they responded the same way that the dogs did? Would this be evidence that plants can perceive and react to the environments around them – or even have a conscience? 

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How Nature has Affected Me

Nature has taught me how to connect with myself and others. Even though I grew up in the city of Chicago, when I did get to connect with nature, I felt at home. I got the chance to clear my mind and get away from all of the traffic, construction, and other city noises. Nature has allowed me to reflect more on my life and the things that truly matter.