Summer is always an exciting time, and we were delighted to welcome Darrell D. Stover, who became the new Head of the N.C. Science Museums Grant Program in August of 2021, for a recent visit. Funding from the program has been vital in helping the Stewardship Foundation expand the staffing and expertise of the Education and Natural Resources Department.
“My visit was a great opportunity to be able to go behind the scenes with the new exhibits, engage with staff and the Board of Directors and see the wonderful animals. Most importantly, I was able to experience the buzz of activity that included all the new things being put into place while at the same time to see so many visitors and school groups. All of that activity says a whole lot about what Grandfather Mountain offers as a space and place to be outdoors and as a space and place to learn about the natural sciences. There is plenty to see and do and the wonderful staff and folks there make it a fantastic experience.”
– Darrell D. Stover
In addition to funding that is allocated through the N.C. State Legislature, the N.C. Science Museum Grant Program provides free, statewide professional development opportunities. A recent three-year initiative focused on program evaluation. It was designed to support museums to develop a higher level of analysis and follow through and to create a community of practice about program evaluation that uses the same methods and shares what is learned as a way of advancing the collective impact.
“It was a great opportunity to learn more about best practices in program evaluation and to develop a common set of parameters, all while networking with other North Carolina science museums,” president and executive director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation Jesse Pope said. “It was good to see what the main values are in other museums and centers across the state, and to be able to work with educators who are prioritizing similar values.”
Stover is visiting all science museums and related education centers across the state, and one of the things he wants to learn is the types of professional development opportunities that would be most helpful in the future.
During the visit, the mountain was hosting a couple of school groups and many of the Education and Natural Resources staff were able to introduce themselves and show Stover around the education facilities.
Anna Bigler, one of the mountain’s Environmental Educators, commented about the visit: “Darrell took the time to ask each person about their positions and what they do on a daily basis. He showed genuine interest in the educational backgrounds of the staff, from high school to master’s degrees, and the different experiences that brought each person to Grandfather Mountain.” The Stewardship Foundation is grateful for the partnership of the N.C. Science Museums Grant Program, opportunities to collaborate with others across the state, and Darrell’s leadership.