VMNH and Boxley announce educational partnership

The Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH) and Boxley Materials Company (Boxley) have announced a new year-long partnership in support of the museum's wide-ranging educational programming initiatives. The $10,000 gift from Boxley to the VMNH Foundation will better position the museum to market and deliver a variety of STEM-based educational programs led by VMNH educators, scientists and research staff, with the various programs to be delivered to schools, families and general audiences throughout Virginia and beyond.

"Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills prepare young people for fast-growing occupations, such as in the construction materials industry,” said Bo Farr, vice president of aggregate sales, Boxley Materials Company. “Whether virtually, in the classroom, or through a real-life geology adventure at one of our quarries, our goal is to develop students’ passion for a STEM-related career through VMNH’s quality programming.”

The partnership is a continuation of the support Boxley has provided to VMNH throughout the years to help enhance the museum's educational programming.

"Boxley has been a long-time supporter of the museum's educational programming and we are incredibly grateful that this partnership will continue through 2023," said Ryan Barber, deputy director of the museum. "The museum's educational programming continues to grow and evolve in terms of both the number of programs we offer and the number of audiences we strive to reach. This partnership will not only support the implementation of the programming, but it will also allow us to reach even more audiences throughout Virginia and the surrounding region."

Specifically, the partnership supports the museum's outreach programming, distance learning programming, and at-the-museum programming, as well as field trips to Boxley quarry sites located throughout Virginia, the museum's Homeschool Science & Engineering Academy, and the future VMNH Science Podcast series.

VMNH standards-based school programs
Popular with schools throughout Virginia, the museum's standards-based school programming is offered in multiple formats and provides students with interactive lessons led by VMNH educators and scientists. Formats include:

(1) At-the-Museum programs, in which school groups take part in educational programs within the museum’s exhibit galleries and classrooms.

(2) Distance Learning Programming, which brings students to the museum without them ever having to leave their classroom. Through the use of two-way video, classes join museum educators to explore Virginia’s natural heritage and uncover its rich biological and geological history. Together, with the use of videoconferencing and interactive activities, museum educators spark imagination, enhance curricula, and support Virginia and national educational standards.

(3) Outreach programming, which allows museum educators to travel to off-site locations to provide standards of learning correlated programs to a variety of entities, such as schools and community centers.

Boxley quarry field trips
Through the partnership with Boxley Materials Company, VMNH educators and science staff will partner with Boxley staff to deliver supplemental STEM-based lessons during selected school field trips to Boxley quarry sites.

Homeschool Science & Engineering Academy
The museum's Homeschool Science & Engineering Academy is a series of bi-monthly programs held from September through May that are designed to supplement students' learning and knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) based topics.

VMNH Science Podcasts
The museum’s new science podcast will feature programs hosted by VMNH Science Administrator Ben Williams. Podcasts are scheduled to take place twice a month and focus on a variety of topics, with an emphasis on the research being conducted at the museum by VMNH scientists and researchers.

While the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted the museum's ability to reach audiences since March 2020, demand for museum educational programming has gradually increased in recent months as the impacts of the pandemic begin to lessen, making the partnership timely.

"As the health situation continues to improve, we are experiencing a continuous increase in demand for our educational programming, especially our outreach offerings," said Christy Deatherage, VMNH education manager. "We anticipate this demand will continue to steadily increase and having the support of Boxley will go a long way in helping ensure that we are able to connect with students and general audiences throughout Virginia and beyond."

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