Chief Executive Officer Brynne Anne Besio from South Florida Museum spoke to Science National Honor Society (SNHS) members Nov. 12 about not only the museum’s history and involvement with science, but her own as well.
Besio has been a director at the museum for the past eight years, but the beginning of her career was far from it. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Geology at the University of California at Davis, and later earned a Master’s Degree in Geochemistry. “I fell in love with geology,” she said.
Besio discussed the evolution of her career after college. She worked for a jet propulsion lab, and later worked in the oil business. Her job was to look for rocks that could create oil as well as ones that could house oil. “It was a tremendous experience,” she said.
After the oil industry crashed in the 1980s, Besio said that she began working with not-for-profit organizations, one being Girl Scouts, for which she designed environmental projects. She worked for Girl Scouts in both Philadelphia and Florida before taking a position as a director at the South Florida Museum. According to Besio, she was interested in how the job could combine her experience in management at not-for-profits with her background in science. “I never would have thought about working for a museum with a science degree. I wish I’d thought about it years before,” she said.
Besio also said that her favorite part of working at the museum is the atmosphere. “I love the environment of learning,” she said, “it’s just an environment of enrichment every day.”
The South Florida Museum has been open for 68 years, and in addition to historical exhibits, also houses the Parker Manatee Aquarium and the Bishop Planetarium. The aquarium is the home of Manatee County mascot Snooty the Manatee. The aquarium started a Manatee Rehab program in 1998, which houses a few manatees at a time, teaches the public about manatee care, and eventually releases the manatees into the wild. In the planetarium, not only are constantly up-to-date maps of the universe able to be displayed, but fossils or even pieces of art can be put on the dome screen to be analyzed in great detail.
Besio discussed potential ways that students can get involved with the museum. There is a family night on the first Saturday of every month, each with its own theme and activities. The event, “Night at the Museum,” will be Dec. 5, when the exhibits are “brought to life” with actors, music and interactive activities. Student volunteers are also welcome at the museum, especially over the summer and for Snooty’s birthday. “We’re for learners of all ages,” Besio said.
Besio and SNHS Founder and President Alexis Hart discussed the possibility of having more involvement and collaboration between the club and the museum in the future.
Besio advised the attendees for their future careers by stressing the importance of creating and building upon multiple layers of skills that can enable one to cross industries if necessary. “I’ll tell any young person that will listen – you have to create options for yourself,” she said.
After attending the event, twelfth-grader Roberto Mercado said, “It was a great opportunity to hear about the career paths that people who are interested in science can take and showed how many different opportunities pursuing science can open.”