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August 26, 2013

The Virginia Museum of Natural History, the state museum of natural history for the Commonwealth, recently completed its most successful series of summer camps, reaching 205 area children in 17 separate camps, a success that the museum attributes to private financial support and community partnerships. The museum is located in Martinsville and serves all of Virginia through traveling exhibits and outreach programs.

"The museum has been more and more ambitious every year with our plans for our summer camps and summer programming," said Dr. Denny Casey, director of education and public programs at VMNH. "Because of the cost of developing and implementing these camps, having private donors step up to help allow area children to attend was critical for us to be able to reach such a large and diverse audience."

Through donations to the VMNH Foundation’s Discovery Fund, along with support from the Southwestern Piedmont Master Naturalists, the Kiwanis Club of Martinsville and Henry County, and funding provided by the Harvest Foundation of the Piedmont to local service providers, the museum was able to offer financial aid to campers, including 63 full student scholarships. Additional funds helped provide partial scholarships and cover the cost of supplies and staffing.

"The museum is thrilled by the success of the camps and reaching so many children this summer," said Casey. "The museum hosted 11 of our own Summer Adventure Camps, and our ability to provide six additional camps to community service providers really made this year special."

The museum was able to conduct the camp "Engineering Challenge" for the Martinsville-Henry County After 3 program at the Fieldale Community Center, Bassett Community Center, and Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School. The camp, "Green Force", was conducted for the Martinsville and Collinsville YMCA's, while VMNH educators provided training to staff of the Boys and Girls Club of the Blue Ridge through "After School Math Plus”.

"Being able to partner with multiple community service providers is a fantastic opportunity to supply museum programs to children who might not otherwise have had a chance to experience what the museum has to offer," said Casey. "We're extremely grateful to be able to partner with them and equally as thankful the Harvest Foundation makes these partnerships a reality through its funding.”

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