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November 1, 2018
scene from dragon festivalThe Virginia Museum of Natural History recently received a $3,000 grant from the Hermes Family Fund of the Martinsville Area Community Foundation for support of museum family festivals, which have become a major draw for visitors throughout Virginia and North Carolina, as well as the east coast.
 
"We are extremely grateful to receive this financial support, which plays an important role in allowing the museum to continue offering high-level family festivals," said Ryan Barber, deputy director of the museum.  "Specifically, the funding went to support the Dragon Festival (image from festival shown), which was held October 20, and will also support the upcoming Reptile Festival on Saturday, January 19."
 
The Dragon Festival ushered in the museum's largest single-day attendance record, with over 2,500 people experiencing the event.
 
"The museum's family festivals have quickly become the staple of the museum's public programming and the museum is cognizant of its need to continue offering exceptional experiences for attendees," said Barber.  "Support, such as this, is critical for our ability to offer these top-notch experiences."
 
Barber also notes that each of the museum's family festival that takes place during the academic school year consists of special programming for school groups the day before each festival.  Participating students are given the opportunity to participate in standards of learning based programming that focuses on the theme of each festival.
 
"In addition to supporting the actual festivals, this grant also plays a significant role in allowing us to offer special educational programming for grade school students throughout the region," said Barber.  "On the day before the Dragon Festival, students throughout southern Virginia participated in dragon-themed educational programming, such as learning about the plant fossils that are believed to have contributed to the myth of the dragon."
 
The day before the upcoming Reptile Festival, students will not only get to witness a large variety of live reptiles, but they will also get the chance to learn directly from expert herpetologists, as they teach the students all about ectothermic animals, which are animals whose body temperature changes with their surroundings.
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