Know Your Nonprofit Organizations | Children’s museum fuels a passion for exploration, learning – Times-Standard
“Know Your Nonprofits” is a weekly column from The Times-Standard that takes an in-depth look at nonprofits in Humboldt County. The nonprofit organization featured this week is the Redwood Discovery Museum. Stephanie Carter, Executive Director, answered the following questions.
Briefly describe your organization and its mission: The Discovery Museum is a non-profit children’s center that offers interactive exhibits, themed programs, preschool and outreach programs. The Discovery Museum’s exhibits and programs encourage hands-on and open discovery in the fields of science, art, culture, technology and a healthy lifestyle. Our goal is to help young people broaden their horizons, find joy and wonder in the world around them, and prepare for the future by fostering a passion for exploration and learning.
When and why was this association founded? : The museum was founded in 1995 by teachers Ken Pinkerton and Ken Collins. It all started in the mall as a “Museum without walls”. Expanded into a residence in the Old Town in the early 2000s, followed by another move to its current location on G Street in Eureka, the museum served Humboldt families as a way to engage their minds and stimulate their creativity from an early age.
Is there something you wish more people knew about the organization or the issues that this nonprofit is trying to solve? : Our main problem has always been funding. We rely heavily on grants, fundraising and donations just to keep the doors open. Our desire is to provide an accessible place for underserved Humboldt families for their children to explore, play and grow. Our low admission fees and program offerings are our best efforts to serve this community, however, there is little room in our budget for museum upgrades.
Our dream is to build a truly vibrant discovery museum for the people of the North Coast. We envision a vibrant facility that is a vital center for education, a healthy resource for family recreation, and a unique cultural landmark for the community. We also want to be able to provide free educational programs for disadvantaged young people in our community in the fields of STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, arts, math). Giving back to the community for all the support we have received over the years is a top priority.
Based on the model people learn by doing, the Discovery Museum is the region’s only interactive and hands-on learning institution where people can actually touch, see, experience, create, imagine, explore and, most importantly, have fun. . The Discovery Museum appeals to the child in all of us and our mission is to keep that spirit alive.
Where does most of the association’s funding come from? : Our biggest fundraiser of the year, The Perilous Plunge, which takes place each year in early spring, provides a large portion of the museum’s funding. The rest comes from Pal Camp, our summer camp program at Freshwater Park, which turns 70 in 2021! Community grants and donations help close the gap to cover the rest of our overhead costs.
How can people get involved in your organization? : We are always looking for volunteers for our fundraising events, donations of all types (preschool toys, books, cleaning products, monetary or other). Another great way to get involved is to join the board. We always welcome new members of the Board of Directors to contribute to decision-making and the internal workings of the organization.
Tell me about some of the recent accomplishments of your organization: Our biggest recent achievement has been our survival in the pandemic. In order to avoid the permanent closure of the organization, we have made the transition to include a preschool in our programs. Another wonderful achievement has been to receive the ACEs grant. With this grant, we are able to set up activity kits to be distributed throughout the county to groups and individual families affected by ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences). The grant has also given us the incredible opportunity to reach out and support the community in ways we haven’t had access to before and will hopefully bring joy to these families.
What challenges has the pandemic created for your organization and how has the nonprofit met these challenges? : Our biggest challenge, other than funding, has been to find a way to reopen our doors safely and effectively to our beloved community. Last year, as the walls of the museum that once resonated with the joys and laughter of young people became calm and silent, the impact of the potential loss of this vital part of our community really had an emotional effect. on everyone involved in the Discovery Museum. Many board members and patrons grew up at the museum and were able to bring their own children to explore the exhibits they once did. While call after call asks us if we are open, the heart of the organization breaks a little more with each “no” given.
Our playgroup via First 5 Humboldt also had to be suspended. Rather than completely disappearing from the life of playgroup families, we have put together small activity kits twice a month for pick up in the car. It was wonderful to see the faces (well, half the faces, at least) of these enthusiastic and enthusiastic children and families.
What’s the best way for people to find out more about your nonprofit organization? : Our website, www.discovery-museum.org, has so much information about who we are and why we do what we do. Our Facebook and Instagram pages are also kept up to date and are a great way to communicate with the organization.
To participate in the “Know Your Nonprofit Organizations” section, contact Heather Shelton at [email protected]