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North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to open Whiteville branch as a natural world learning center

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Contact: emelia.cowans@naturalsciences.org; 919.707.9837

New direction for former Museum of Forestry

RALEIGH—The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will repurpose its former Museum of Forestry facility in Whiteville to create an indoor-outdoor learning center that will allow students and families to explore the natural world. 

“The Museum recognizes a powerful opportunity to provide Whiteville and surrounding communities full access to our educational resources about the natural world, past and present,” said Museum Director Emlyn Koster, Ph.D. “Although based in Raleigh, the Museum strives to reach every region of the state, especially those communities in rural, underserved regions. This new branch strategy provides us with a base from which to deliver high-quality science programs directly to the community.” The transition was unanimously endorsed by the Museum’s Advisory Commission and by the Friends Board in Whiteville. 

“The State Department of Environment and Natural Resources is delighted with this progressive step,” noted Brad Ives, assistant secretary for Natural Resources in the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “Once a successful benchmark is in place in Whiteville, we foresee interest by other rural underserved communities to replicate this step.” 

Harold Blanchard, president of the Friends Board in Whiteville, echoed Ives’ sentiment.“We have a new beginning and an opportunity to broaden our scope, outlook and presentation,” Blanchard said. “Good things are ahead for the museum in Whiteville. It’s an exciting time, and we look forward to being a more involved part of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.”

Gary Lanier, director of the Columbus County Economic Development Council, recognizes the economic benefit of a new, science-based learning center in southeastern North Carolina. “Not only will it be able to provide students living in the region with access to some of the same types of unprecedented learning experiences that are available to their peers in Raleigh and other metropolitan areas of the state, it strengthens the skills and abilities of the children that will be the core of our workforce here in southeastern North Carolina in just a few short years,” Lanier said.

As an economic developer, Lanier says he’s “especially excited with the transition taking place here. In today’s high tech world, having a workforce that is well-schooled in science, nature, mathematics, ecology and technology is critical to economic development.”

Modeled after the programs at the Museum’s Nature Research Center, the Nature Education Center , and Prairie Ridge Ecostation for Wildlife and Learning, plans are underway to create a number of interactive Investigate Labs, an outdoor Nature Play Space, a Naturalist Center and other additions to the Whiteville branch. Also under consideration are programs to virtually link Museum scientists with students for question-and-answer sessions, screenings of nationally recognized wildlife and science films, and expanded school programs. For more information about the Whiteville transition, please contact LuAnne Pendergraft at 919.707.9823 or luanne.pendergraft@naturalsciences.org.


Publish Date: 
Friday, August 15, 2014