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Family Fun Day Features Toxic Plants in New Mexico

2/22/2016 2:20:00 p.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

The Western Heritage Museum and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame presents a second Family Fun Day, Saturday, February 27th from 10:00 a.m. through 3:00 p.m., in conjunction with the fun, interactive exhibit “Wicked Plants – The Exhibit”.  The event is free to the public.

Two biology professors from the University of New Mexico will be special guest speakers. Dr. Tim Lowrey will talk about the many plants in New Mexico that are in plain sight but can be poisonous to humans.  Dr.

Eric Toolson will feature those plants that can have effects on animals – livestock, pets, etc.  A third presenter, Jacqueline Kakos from New Mexico Poison Control, will give a presentation about first aid and the steps to take if you fear you are poisoned.  Presentations will be at 11:00 a.m, 12 noon and 1:00 p.m.

“This family fun day is for both adults and children,” says Mary Lyle, Director of Education at the museum. “We wanted to teach the dangers that some plants can cause for humans and animals, which includes many plants in our own backyards.”

In addition to these three experts, there will be arts and crafts for children, plus docent-assisted tours for families to explore “Wicked Plants – The Exhibit”.

“Wicked Plants – The Exhibit” is an entertaining exhibit, based on Amy Stewart’s book “Wicked Plants – The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities”. The exhibit gives visitors a hands-on experience with some of the world’s most diabolical botanicals—without the risk of intoxication, addiction, dismemberment, or other danger. Menacing interactive displays set in an eerie environment are designed to educate and entertain children and adults with information about some of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations.

Admission is free Saturday for the Family Fun Day, which includes tours through the exhibit. 

For more information, please call Mary Lyle at 575-492-2678 or


About Dr. Tim Lowrey

Dr. Tim Lowrey is Professor of Biology, Curator of the UNM Herbarium, Regent’s Lecturer, and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of New Mexico. He obtained his Ph.D. in Botany from the University of California, Berkeley with Dr. Robert Ornduff in 1981. His dissertation was a biosystematic revision of Hawaiian Tetramolopium (Asteraceae). He has been a faculty member at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa (1982-1987), National University of Singapore (1987-1990), and the University of New Mexico (1990-present).  He was Director of the C.E. Moss Herbarium (J) at the University of the Witwatersrand and Director of the Museum of Southwestern Biology, Univ. of New Mexico. He has been Chair of the Collections Committee of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, Council member of ASPT, President-International Organization of Plant Biosystematists, editor of the botanical journal Madrono, and member of the Editorial Board of Flora North America. He has edited and co-authored four books and published a number of scientific papers. His research interests are focused on the classification and evolution of the Sunflower Family.

About Dr. Eric Toolson

“Many medicines and addictive substances are actually toxins or chemical derivatives of them, so learning about toxicology and toxins is a great introduction to contemporary medical practice and the neurobiology of addiction.”  After serving in the Army as an Airborne Infantry Officer during the Vietnam War era, Toolson did graduate work at Arizona State University, earning his PhD in Zoology in 1976.  Hired by UNM as an Assistant Professor that same year, he has been a Professor of Biology since 1991.   He currently teaches upper-division courses in toxicology, animal and medical physiology, and mathematical biology. His research focus is on development of mathematical models of evolution of physiological response to stress and ecological/ evolutionary response of organisms to climate change.

About Jacqueline Kakos

Jacqueline Kakos has been serving as the health educator for the New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center (NMPDIC) for the past five years where she has made significant strides in poison center awareness and poison prevention throughout the state. She holds a B.A. in Biology from the University of New Mexico and a M.S. in Health Promotion from the University of Montana. Jacqueline is very proud to work among the most talented in the nation and for an awesome mission that saves lives.

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