Migratory shorebirds are true wonders of the natural world. Each year, they undertake grueling migrations of up to 30,000 km from their wintering grounds in South America to their breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic, and back again. Along the way, they stop at various staging points to rest and refuel. These highly productive stopover sites are critical to the survival and breeding success of these birds, and there are a number of factors that are reducing their viability, such as global climate change, over-harvesting of food supplies, and disturbance or destruction of habitat.
Less than 10% of the planet’s estimated 100 million species have been identified and described. With the rate of species extinction at an unprecedented level, it is now more important than ever to discover and document the incredible diversity of life on Earth. Traditionally, species were classified by comparing the morphology, or the physical characteristics, a process that would likely take thousands of years to complete at the current rate.
It's like getting your own ROM expert in a suitcase! Relax in the comfort of your own classroom, and let us bring the Museum to you. Our EduKits Program is guaranteed to liven up your classroom learning environment.
The EduKits Program offers hands-on, object-oriented educational kits. Covering a variety of topics, based on common core curriculum, the ROM’s expertise and collections are the foundation of each kit – making it unique, engaging and most importantly fun!
Assistant Curator of Ichthyology
B.Sc., Fisheries and Wildlife, University of Guelph, 1980
Mary Burridge is an Assistant Curator of Ichthyology in the Department of Natural History. She teaches the Ontario Fish Identification Workshop and is a contributing editor to ROM magazine.
Spending her childhood summers in Muskoka, Mary grew up with a love of the great outdoors, especially water. Since canoeing, sailing, swimming and fishing were her passions as a child, it was a natural progression to delve into the depths, and she became a SCUBA diver at a young age, passing her open water dive in the dark, cold waters of Lake Ontario. Having a relative and mentor with an enviable career at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, she followed in his footsteps and began a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Fisheries at the University of Guelph. Being the only female in a class of 25 students, she quickly learned some necessary survival strategies (like holding her own at a bar).
While she was a student, Mary worked the summers with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) assisting in a project to reintroduce Lake Whitefish into Lake Simcoe. After her graduation, she continued working for the OMNR until her career evolved from managing resources to conducting research on resources. In 1981, her good fortune led to a research assistant position at the ROM with Dr. E.J. Crossman. For four years, she struggled on short term contracts, and then gratefully accepted a position as Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Ichthyology and Herpetology.
Mary has contributed to a wide range of projects during her career at the ROM. From naming and describing new species of fishes, to diving on picturesque coral reefs in the Philippines and Vietnam (a far cry from Lake Ontario), her research endeavours have led to a dozen publications on freshwater Southeast Asian and marine Indo-Pacific species.
Because of her interest in education, Mary became a team member in the development of the popular Patrick and Barbara Keenan Family Hands-on Biodiversity Gallery, the travelling exhibit Hands On Nature, and the ROM's newest gallery, the Schad Gallery of Biodiversity .
She has organized many March Break, Christmas Holiday and Wildlife Week public programs for the life science disciplines including “Night Life,” and “ROM’s Believe it or Not.” Mary visits schools, libraries, seniors' homes and summer camps extolling the virtues of the natural world.
She also works with the large collection of fishes at the ROM and manages the frozen fish tissue collection, which is becoming increasingly important for molecular research. Mary is a co-author of the fourth book in the ROM field guide series, The ROM Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Ontario, which has just been published.
Teacher, Instructor, Facilitator
Interests: education, hands-on learning, experiential education, nature, conservation
Hon. B.Sc., Zoology and Animal Behaviour, University of Toronto, 2001
B.Ed., J/I Science Specialist, Diversity and Social Justice Program, York University, 2008
Sarah has been passionate about nature and history all her life, but when she began volunteering in the Hands-on Biodiversity gallery in 2001, she knew she had found her calling. Two degrees and a year teaching overseas later, Sarah is overjoyed to be a member of the ROM's Education department.
Sarah plays many roles within the department: a ROM Kids Instructor; a School Visits teacher; and a facilitator in the Keenan Family Gallery of Hands-on Biodiversity, the CIBC Discovery Room, and Life in Crisis: the Schad Gallery of Biodiversity. Through these positions, Sarah has played key roles in the development of ROM educational initiatives, including the Schad Gallery Winter Wonderland and Nature Nut Quiz, the Ultimate Dinosaurs Teacher Resource Package, the Virtual Visit and Creative Play programs, tactile tours, and the Experiential Education professional development workshop for teachers and teacher candidates.
Sarah is committed to the exploration and development of new ways to bring the ROM's educational expertise to the public, and is extremely interested in the possibilities surrounding the use of social media in education.
When she is not at the ROM, Sarah is a writer, chorister, and occasional ATS dancer. She is the lead @ROMHandsOn gallery tweeter, and maintains a personal blog about things that pertain to museums, education, and things she just finds interesting at museumgirlsarah.tumblr.com.
- "Tides of Change" in Tales from the Wonder Zone: Odyssey, an educational anthology of Science Fiction stories based on the Grade 7/8 Ontario Science Curricula.
"Blood Ties" in Fantastic Companions, an educational anthology of Fantasy stories based on the theme of anthropomorphism. Winner of ForeWord Magazine's Silver Book of the Year Award in the Science Fiction category 2005. Finalist for the 2006 Prix Aurora Best Work in English Award.
Hands-on discovery for the young... and young at heart.
Life is Diverse. Life is Interconnected. Life is at Risk.