Burpee Museum receives $20,000 grant for outreach program

Burpee Museum receives $20,000 grant for outreach program


Burpee Museum of Natural History received a $20,000 check on Dec. 19 from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. This grant is one of the largest ever awarded by the Foundation, according to Foundation Senior Program Officer Barbara Nelson. It will be used to help develop and implement a new Museum Naturalists Outreach Program called KIDS (Kids Involved in Discovering Science).

Burpee is developing partnerships with west-side community organizations to identify young people in the area to come to Burpee and be trained on the museum exhibits and serve as docents and interpreters at the museum. The Booker Washington Community Center, Friends’ House, the Youth Outreach Ministry and La Voz Latina will collaborate with the Burpee Museum to recruit students for this innovative program.

“This new program is a fabulous opportunity for young people,” stated Rolf Thienemann, chairman of the Burpee Board of Trustees. “It will bring children into the museum, allow them to learn about the natural sciences, maybe get them interested in a career in museum work, they’ll earn a salary, and it will help the museum staff, too. It’s a win-win situation.”

The KIDS program is designed to help middle-school-age students from underserved populations understand and appreciate science and our environment through training, preparation and participation as Certified Museum Naturalist docents. “This new program demonstrates our commitment to community collaboration and outreach,” stated Lew Crampton, president of Burpee Museum. “Most kids enter our museum as observers, but this kind of experience can change lives.”

The KIDS program will last 12 months and is scheduled to begin in January, 2002. The naturalists in training will participate in special workshops and hands-on activities. They will network with resources and people who will prepare them to instruct Museum visitors and school group tours about natural history science and our environment. Participants will receive a salary, program supplies, a free T-shirt, and a diploma when they graduate from the program. Other sponsors of the KIDS program include The Blazer Foundation and the R. Page Reese Memorial Fund.

The Burpee Museum is located at 737 N. Main St. and features permanent exhibits focusing on the biology, paleontology, geology and anthropology fields. The museum also provides family-oriented festivals, programming events, classes, school tours, meeting spaces, Fossil Field Trips, and teacher training.

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