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June 12, 2018

The Virginia Museum of Natural History has been awarded a $10,000 grant from Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation in support of exhibits that the museum will develop and install at Natural Bridge State Park to highlight Virginia's rich natural heritage.

"We're extremely grateful for the support of the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, which will play a key role in allowing our exhibit vision to be realized at Natural Bridge State Park by the end of 2019," said Dr. Joe Keiper, executive director of the museum. "These exhibits will not only complement the visitor experience at the park, but provide a rich experience that highlights the amazing natural history, heritage and culture of the Commonwealth of Virginia."

Exhibit elements will include "Exploring Virginia", which highlights the exploration of Virginia beginning in the 17th century by explorers who sought the "New World". These explorers, including George Washington, mapped new lands, learned about natural resources, and made contact with native peoples. Today, archaeologists continue to study the past through active excavations and scientific research.

The "Exploring Virginia" exhibit will be accompanied by a one-of-a-kind display developed in partnership with the Virginia Entomological Society at Virginia Tech, highlighting the biological diversity of aquatic and terrestrial insects present at the park, while showing how aquatic insects are indicators of good water quality.

"Our Commonwealth's rich natural and cultural heritage is one that all Virginian's should be proud of and one that will be spectacularly highlighted through this joint exhibit project between two great institutions in the museum and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation," said Bruce Wingo, chairman of the Board of Conservation and Recreation and board member of the Virginia Museum of Natural History Foundation. "We are very grateful for the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation's support, which will play a significant part in allowing this joint exhibit venture to move forward."

The Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation awarded the grant to the museum through its Environmental Education and Stewardship Initiative, which is designed to support environmental education and stewardship projects that preserve, enhance or make nature more accessible.

"We are excited about the chance to work in collaboration with the Virginia Museum of Natural History," said Jim Jones, manager of Natural Bridge State Park. "It is ventures like this that allow both agencies to benefit from the contributions from private organizations, like Dominion Energy. As a new park, this exhibit will help us begin to develop a basis for programming other facets of the park, exposing park guests to experiential opportunities as they hike Cedar Creek Trail, and see the natural wonder of Natural Bridge State Park."

For more information about the museum, including its scientific research and exhibits, visit www.vmnh.net.

For more information about Natural Bridge State park, visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/natural-bridge.

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