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Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology / Outreach

   Education and Conservation through Preservation


The Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology has an active outreach program reaching over 2,000 students and hundreds of people annually. Traditionally our goal has been the education of undergraduate and graduate students at UC Davis. The MWFB collections and staff support over 50 courses across 25 different departments on campus, interacting with over 2,500 students annually. Through our Services Program, we use specimens to assist with species determinations and help train agency biologists in vertebrate identification.

Outreach Events

first grade tour

Tabatha Yang, above right, explores the MWFB bird collections with an enthusiastic group of first graders from Willett Elementary School.

The MWFB is expanding outreach programs to include more opportunities for the general public to learn from our collections. Currently, we offer tours of the collections for groups with advanced reservations. As our program grows we plan to add more activities. If you have a suggestion or an idea about how we can be of service, please let us know.

We also provide specimens in response to requests for use by educators and researchers both on and off campus. Access to such a complete collection (in terms of species coverage) offers opportunities to a wide array of users. K-12 Education specimen loan requests can be made to our Collections Manager.

Research specimen loan requests must be made in writing to the Collections Manager and approved by our Curator. Please click here for more details on specimen loans.

We are located on the University of California, Davis campus in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology in the Academic Surge Building, room 1394. Click here for an interactive campus map, or here for a PDF map to the MWFB.


For more information on tours please visit our tours webpage, or contact our Collections Manager, Irene Engilis at (530) 754-8813.

Internship and Volunteer Opportunities

For more information, visit our volunteer webpage, or contact our Collections Manager, Irene Engilis at (530) 754-8813.



Bio Boot Camp 2016

Together with the UCD Bohart Museum of Entomology and Campus Recreation we launched Bio Boot Camp, a camp for junior high aged students who are interested in the natural sciences. There is limited enrollment and so we ask that the students themselves be part of the enrollment process.

Currently, registration for Bio Boot Camp 2016 is CLOSED! There is a specific pre-registration process for these Bio Boot Camps. Direct registration with Campus Recreation is not possible for these two camps. Three forms were due by Thursday, March 31 at midnight.

In early April students will be notified if they are offered a spot in the camp or if they are waitlisted. Partial need-based scholarships are available for both camps. Contact if you have any questions.

Camp forms:

1) Student Question form pdf

2) Participant Expectations pdf

3) Letter of Reference form pdf

Scholarship pdf (optional)

Bio Boot Camp - June 13-17, 2016 (Entering grades 7, 8 & 9)

This is a full day camp from 8:30 am-5:30 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Then on Thursday morning we travel to UC Davis Bodega Bay Field Station for an overnight and exploration. We return to Davis on Friday afternoon. Transportation (vans) , 3 meals and housing (bunkhouse) are provided.

Monday-Wednesday: 8:30 am-5:30 pm & Thursday 8:30 am-Friday 5:30 pm (Total cost is $425)

Bio Boot Camp 2.0- July 10-16, 2016 (Entering grades 10, 11 & 12) Camp is longer this year!

Together with the UCD Bohart Museum of Entomology and Campus Recreation we launched Bio Boot Camp 2.0 after much enthusiasm from Bio Boot Campers who graduated out of the program. The camp this year has been extended to 7 days and 6 nights, so Sunday at noon to Saturday at noon. Pick-up and drop-off will be at the museums on the UC Davis Campus. The first night will be at UC Davis Quail Ridge Field Station outside of Winters, CA getting to know the Central Valley. We will be stopping at the UC Davis campus on Monday for part of the day before traveling to UC Berkeley's Sagehen Creek Field Station outside of Truckee, CA to conduct a project and explore the area. Transportation (vans), housing (tents/cabins) and food will be provided, but campers will be expected to help prepare group meals.

Sunday 12:00 pm -Saturday 12:00 pm (7 days, 6 nights) (Total cost is $795)

Quotes from Bio Boot Camp Evaluations:

Overall, what was the most beneficial part of the program? "Seeing my child so enthusiastic and engaged with learning about biology in realistic settings and doing realistic tasks. She has learned some practical scientific skills that most people don’t even become exposed to until a much later age." - a parent's evaluation (Bio Boot Camp 2011)

"THE CAMP WAS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had soooooo much fun!" - a camper's evaluation (Bio Boot Camp 2011)


Upcoming Events


Past Events

  • state fair 2012California State Fair 2012.
    Poppy, the mascot of the California State Fair, got to see the real deal when the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology (MWFB) had an exhibit at the California State Fair on July 28th and 29th. With the theme “California Wildlife: Past, Present and Future” staff, interns and students of the MWFB showcased about 30 specimens from the collection. There were Tiger Salamanders and a tiger paw, a wolf skull and a wolverine pelt and, of course, a Grizzly Bear skull and a Black Bear skull. During the two days about 5,000 fair-goers saw the exhibit, located inside the Youth Art and Design Exposition Building.
    The California State Fair draws in people from all over, so there were many interesting conversations and discussions about California’s natural history. Many people were surprised to learn there were lions in North America during the Pleistocene era and that California Condors are currently endangered. In an effort to connect to people’s everyday wildlife experiences many fair-goers were curious to learn about the Eastern Grey Squirrel’s arrival in the Sacramento area. Most adult Californians recognized the Western Grey Squirrel as the west coast native that they grew up watching.



  • Bio Boot Camp June 18-22, 2012.
    For the second year the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, in collaboration with the Bohart Museum of Entomology, offered Bio Boot Camp (BBC) through the Campus Recreation Summer Camp programs. BBC is a week long camp for junior high kids. Designed by the museums and staffed by graduate students and undergraduates associated with the museums, the campers spend 5 full days and one overnight engaged in science. This is camp, so there is fun, games, and making friends, but the students also get hands-on science experiences not typically encountered until college.  The days were spent observing insects, learning how to prepare museum specimens and exploring the UC Natural Reserve area along Putah Creek. This year the overnight stay was at the UC Davis Bodega Bay Marine Reserve.  Throughout the camp the students interacted with many UC Davis staff, faculty and students who helped make this a memorable experience.
    One student was excited about how “adventurous” science could be. He had thought science was mostly inside labs. Someone else said she “enjoyed getting to learn new stuff about biology and not have people consider me weird.” In evaluations a parent liked that the camp allowed his child to experience a college campus in an “unpressured, exciting and positive way” and he felt that his child now has an “increased interest” in attending college. Another parent wrote, “After spending the week with the [counselors] my daughters were excited about attending UC Davis and getting more involved with the science program.”
bio boot camp student disecting bird

MWFB Ornithologist, Dr. John Trochet, assisting Bio Boot Camp student in assessing the reproductive organs of a Yellow-billed Magpie specimen.

bio boot camp seining

Bio Boot Camp instructors Kyle Philips (left) and Matt Young (right with hat) demonstrating hands-on sein techniques for fish sampling to BBC students in the UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve.


bio boot camp group photo

Bio Boot Camp instructor Bobby Walsh (far back left) with BBC 2012 attendees at the UC Davis Bodega Bay Marine Reserve.













  • peregrine falconUC Davis Picnic Day, April 21, 2012.
    Best New Superhero Specimen Contest Winner: Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus). Name suggestions are welcomed on our Facebook or Twitter.






northern flying squirrelAnd the second place specimen that deserves an honorable mention as the "Flying Falcon's" trusty sidekick is a Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus)..."Super Squirrel"?






  • Public Weekend Hours - Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011.
    A free event to the public with a display highlighting Fall Migration in California Central Valley's Pacific Flyway.
  • California State Fair 2011.
    Saturday and Sunday, July 32-24, 2011. Celebrating California's Avian Migrants display highlighting the serengeti of the skies, California's Central Valley Flyway which hosts millions upon millions of birds traveling (or migrating) north and south every spring and fall. Who are these birds? What resources do they need to successfully travel between wintering and breeding grounds? Visitors answered these questions and more while they discovered how scientists at the MWFB are uncovered the hidden world of migratory birds.
  • cock of the rockPicnic Day 2011.
    Display on History of Scientific Collecting and History of the Department of Wildlife and Fish Conservation Biology. This year's contest: Which MWFB specimen looks most like Elvis?
    Winner: Andean Cock of the Rock (Rupicola rupicola).






  • California State Fair 2010.
    Sieze the Prey! MWFB display featuring the adaptations predators use to capture their prey.
  • Picnic Day 2010.
    In line with this year's UCD Picnic Day theme, Carpe Diem, the MWFB created a Sieze the Prey display showcasing predators and their adaptations. WINNER of MWFB's Ugliest Specimen Contest: Spotted Ratfish (Hydrolagus colliei).
  • California State Fair,August 31, 2009 12:00PM—9:00PM.

state fair logo

Besides funnel cake, ferris wheels and birthing cows the California State Fair on Monday, August 31 had another treat. We, the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology (MWFB), set up a mini-museum for guests, particularly youth, to get to know some of the unique wild animals found here in California. From Yellow-billed Magpies to the Siskiyou Chipmunk we wanted to celebrate the wild denizens of California. To do this we had five different areas for people to explore: 1) nature photography 2) museum specimens (some of which you could touch!) 3) range maps of California endemic animals 4) backyard nestboxes 5) reading riddles with binoculars.

About 500 people visited the 200 square foot area located in the Youth Expo. If you weren’t able to spend the day at the fair and visit us, let me tell you about it. When you first walked into the Expo building #1 you could see the nestboxes and Canada Geese at the back of the room hanging from above. Hmm, what is going on over there? As you approached the “flying geese” the sounds of different birds could be heard. One moment it was an Anna’s Hummingbird’s buzzing sound and the next there were the cries of the California Gull. (An iPod loaded with the bird sounds of California was continuously playing; contributing to the theme of California’s nature.) 

When you rounded the corner you saw an area filled with interesting and different items. On the wall were beautiful photographs of California animals taken by Andy Engilis, Jr., MWFB’s curator. Then there was a large Brown Pelican mounted on the wall “diving” onto a table with many things including a Sea Otter skele

    state fair

    Dr. Melanie Truan explaining the predatory adaptations of a lamprey, whale and Mountain Lion using MWFB specimens at the 2010 California State Fair.

ton and a Nuttall’s Woodpecker, a bird only found in California. But this wasn’t the table you could touch. If you wanted to use your hands the “please touch” table was next to this. Here you could find a dozen or so curiosities, including a piece of a Bowhead Whale baleen, an American Beaver pelt and what one young boy declared as “awesome,” a round study skin of a Red-tailed Hawk. But there is more to touch! A raised relief map of California hung on the wall. The Central Valley really is flat.  Around the map were range maps for some of California’s endemic animals- these are animals only found here. Who knew there was an arboreal salamander and a small fox only found on the Channel Islands? And here in Northern California the native Delta Smelt are threatened?

Simply knowing about the animals here in California is a good start, but for those who want to help animals from their own backyard we had a display of nestboxes with nests, eggs and specimens of Western Bluebirds, Ash-throated Flycatchers, Tree Swallows and House Wrens. MWFB projects like the Putah Creek Nestbox Highway have been able to increase Western Bluebird populations in areas where they hadn’t been seen for decades. Interested in building and monitoring your own nestbox? We were giving out bookmarks with our website on it . There we have information on nestboxes, current research, tours, the Department of Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology and our on-line gift shop. Click here or scroll below for information on nestboxes.

But wait! There was one last thing you could do before you left. On a small cart across from the mini-museum we had some binoculars for people to enjoy using. We put some toy birds in a Ficus tree, so visitors could practice “birding,” an outdoor activity that is increasingly popular. To practice focusing the binoculars we had jokes with the answers posted at a distance. I’ll leave you with my favorite. ‘What did the museum specimen say when offered lunch?’ ‘No thanks, I’m stuffed.’ ( Snort. Laugh.) Typically, museum specimens are stuffed with cotton, but maybe on this sunny day at the California State Fair it was those funnel cakes.

All of the above wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the following individuals: Andy Engilis Jr., Irene Engilis, Melanie Truan, John Trochet, Bobby Walsh, Mana Hattori, Ona Alminas, Avery Cook, Tabatha Yang, Carlos Alvarado, Ellen Engilis, and Annie Engilis. Also, the support of the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology at UC Davis is always appreciated.  Lastly thanks to Michelle Johnson of the CA State Fair who invited us to participate and shepherded us through the whole process. We look forward to doing it all again next year!

  • Picnic Day 2009, Sat. April 18, 2009, 10:00AM-3:00PM.

highland yellow-shouldered bat

On Picnic Day 2009, the MWFB held a 'Cutest Specimen' Contest. There were 13 candidate specimens selected by staff and students of the MWFB. Four-hundred sixty-five adults and children cast their votes. It was a tight race all day between two specimens, and the results were...

In 3rd place, with 58 votes was an Emperor Penguin chick.

In 2nd place, with 74 votes was an Ancient Murrelet chick.

And in 1st place, with 77 votes was a Highland Yellow-shouldered Bat, Sturina ludovici. This specimen was collected in Panana at an elevation of 5,500ft, on 21 December 1968 by W. H. Buskirk.

Many thanks to all who voted and visited the MWFB on Picnic Day. Look forward to next year's UGLIEST SPECIMEN CONTEST!


  • TGFS, Staff Assembly Thank Goodness For Staff Bowling Tournament.
    MWFB bowling team 2009

    MWFB bowling team 2009 from left to right, Andy Engilis, Irene Engilis, Melanie Truan, and Tabatha Yang.

    2009MWFB Bowling Team Fared Well in First Outing. On May 25th the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology (MWFB) mounted a team of not-so-expert bowlers to try our luck in the UCD Staff Bowling Tournament.  The team, dubbed, The Hedgehog Rollers comprised of team captain Andy Engilis (MWFB Curator), Irene Engilis (MWFB Collections Manager), Melanie Truan (MWFB Director of Biomonitoring, and Tabatha Yang (MWFB Education and Outreach Coordinator).  We entered as a coed team facing off against 27 other teams from other departments on campus.  The event was held from 5:00 pm until about 7:00 pm at the UC Davis Memorial Union bowling alley.  We kept the pressure on all evening against our foes, getting stronger through our third game.  We finished tied for 20th place with a combined score of 2282.  The first place team scored 2355 so a few more pins here and there would have moved us up in the ranking.  We are now in training for next year’s event and determined to improve our standing among the bowling elite!


Songbird Nestboxes

Bring wildlife into your garden and neighborhoods. Find out how to build, maintain, enjoy beautiful, helpful songbird nestboxes by visiting our new information page on Songbird Nestboxes here.


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