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Biology department receives donation of 1000+ seashells
Chevonne Forgey
Antelope Staff
Photo from Internet
Thousands of sea shells are now apart of the Biology department and some are pieces of delicate coral of very high-quality.

Dr. John Hertner, department of biology chair, went into the Hohnholts’ home in Kearney, thinking he’d leave with little more than a box of seashells, but instead, Hertner walked out with nearly a dozen boxes full of over 1,000 individually wrapped pieces of sea stars, coral, seashells and much more.

Longtime Kearney residents Margaret and Henry Hohnholt have always been frequent travelers, hardworking and very active in the community. A hobby and pastime was collecting seashells, sea stars, coral, sea urchins and almost any other sort of marine object when they traveled.

Throughout the years, they ended up with a very impressive collection, including pieces of delicate coral of very high-quality.

It all started with a phone call at the beginning of the fall semester from a granddaughter of the Hohnholts, wondering if the university would be interested in such a collection. Hertner decided it would be worthwhile to take a look. After entering the home, Hertner was thoroughly impressed.

Hertner, along with some additional faculty and students from UNK, set out to the Hohnholts’ home to gather up the collection and bring them back to campus. Hertner said, “This rich collection will serve us well in both teaching laboratories and in student research activity.” The tentative plan is to develop a student project that will involve the cataloguing of the many pieces of the collection.

“It is too early to tell whether there are any truly rare pieces in the collection, but at very least, there are some quality representative ones,” he said.  “It will take time for us to sort through them all.”

In addition to the Hohnholt collection, a family from Kansas has also made inquiries in donating their collection of marine origins.  The father of the Kansas family was an international security consultant who gathered related samples from all over the world. “Once we get these two collections together, we will have a substantial collection. We are building up one of the better collections in the Midwest here at UNK,” Hertner said.

Eventually, the collection of seashells, coral, sea fans, etc., will be up on display in Bruner Hall on behalf of the biology department. Because there are so many pieces, Hertner predicts that the display will be continually rotated.


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