Queensland Natural History Award 2013 – Rae Sheridan

The 2013 Queensland Natural History Award was being made to Rae Sheridan of Indooroopilly and in so doing the Club was making recognition of her many years of energetic and enthusiastic promotion of natural history/.

Rae Sheridan and Barry JahnkeMany people across the State including Club members, have benefited from help and encouragement issued by Rae within and outside her professional work.

Education is a major component of Rae’s life as can be seen from her formal qualifications with Bachelor Degrees in Arts and Science, a Diploma of Education, two Graduate Diplomas in Libbrary work and more recently a Masters in Museum Studies. Since 1966 she has taught in Schools, Teachre’s Colleges and Museums in various parts of Australia as well as helping with field collecting and research in Australia and overseas, including the island of Borneo and in India. The range of specimen collecting has included flora, insects, snails, vertebrates and fossils. The field research has resulted in Rae producing or contributing to eight major research papers as well as writing articles for magazines in Australia and Asia. In addition there have been many other articles written and published, sometimes in collaboration with husband, John; for medical journals, forums, conferences and educational organizations, just to mention a few. Other writings have been for information panels on educational loan materials.

Rae is a member of nine professional and association organizations including this Club.

As an Education Officer in the Australian Museum in Sydney (1969), National Museum of Victoria (1970-71), and the Queensland Museum (1986-2004), Rae Sheridan has made contributions to the institutions’ collections and services. In 18 years with the Queensland Museum her energies were directed to the development of the Museum’s Loans service and Rae became the Manager of Education Resource Services. During that time Museum Loans grew from a few specimens near a stairwell in the South Brisbane campus to a unique and valued collection of 40,000 catalogued objects in 5,502 kits including geological and Zoological specimens, cultural artefacts, puppets, books, posters and theme-based kits including Macquarie Island and Queensland Frogs. Over the years Rae’s enthusiasm and personality has encouraged many people to join the workforce as volunteers where they were rewarded with the satisfaction of contributing their talents and skills to a much appreciated service, which is the largest in the world. In 2002 the Queensland audience was estimated to be more than 750,000. The service over the years was expanded to operate out of several regional centres and not solely from its current base in Hendra. It is also important to note that through her contact early career students have been encouraged to undertake natural history studies.

During her long service leave in 2004 Rae compiled 8 cultural kits on life in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ladakh and Vietnam for the Museum Loans.

In 2005 the Queensland Museum acknowledged Rae’s work by awarding her that year’s Queensland Museum medal. Over the years many people have written letters of appreciation of her enthusiastic work.

Rae has not been idle in her retirement as she, together with John, has surveyed 70 Museums in Australia under the title “Museums & Climate Change – are they meeting the Challenge?”. This project has also resulted in the book “International Heritage Instruments and Climate Change” which was launched last year at the Climate Change Conference in Barbados.

Also in retirement Rae has helped develop 18 natural history education kits for Sunshine Coast schools and 13 museums. The kits investigate 3 Sunshine Coast environments and are loaned out of local Council libraries.

The Club is honoured to acknowledge Rae’s cheerful and energetic contributions to the spread of the natural history message.

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