Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Updates by Laddie Elwell

Flowing With the Current
A Little History;
A Lot of Vision

The Vision

Why did Headwaters Science Center happen to grow in Bemidji? There was never a loud call from the City’s population that there was a great need for a science center, and the City “fathers” and the Chamber of Commerce weren’t even aware that it was happening, nor did they, like most of the community, seem to care. Really, why should they have?

But that was about twenty years ago, and both City leaders and the Chamber are now supportive, as are a large number of people in the community! And who could have guessed that so many wonderful, and sometimes strange and/or hilarious, things would happen to bring us to the beginning of 2012?

In the early 1990’s, there was a group of people in town who were aware that there were quite a few folks with interests in things other than sports and the arts... and that there were kids who had no place to go to enjoy recreational fun involving learning activities. Most of the thirty or so people who attended the first publicized meeting that led to the birth of HSC had grown up in places where they had access to museums, or they were taken to museums as children, and they wanted their kids and grandkids to enjoy museum experiences.

That’s how it started. The former J.C. Penney building was just sitting around, being host to a few gigs, but not being fully utilized after the restaurant and hardware store moved out. Rosemary Given Amble helped us gain temporary access to it, and later she and Bud Amble, Bill Baumgartner, and John Baer helped us arrange a reasonable 5-year mortgage to buy the 413 Beltrami Avenue property. Those of us on the original working committee considered the old building to be a perfect startup site for a small science center: and it has been!

But what do we do at HSC––and what’s our goal? Our mission states: The Headwaters Science Center’s mission is to provide intellectual stimulation and enjoyment for all children and adults in its northern Minnesota service area with scientific and  echnological interactive displays, exhibits, and programs otherwise unavailable in the region. We do this, but it is an unexciting statement of the passion that those of us who work here feel about our real job.

Our real job is to help other people feel the wonder and excitement about how this very remarkable Universe we inhabit really works. Of course, we really don’t understand how everything does work, but, between us all at HSC and our scientist friends, we know many of the answers to questions about a lot of things! And we also know that there are lots of things that NOBODY knows so far... and that is exciting. We know that the kids we work with will grow up in a very different world, and we want to help them understand how to make decisions by carefully weighing alternatives, the way scientists do in assessing the results of carefully conducted experiments. But we also hope that along the way they will learn to feel a kinship with the Universe, that they will
see the magnificence in a butterfly’s wing, the precision in the chemical activities of every green leaf, and the true wonder of our Earth and all its inhabitants.

My Vision for HSC –

• Within a few months: a new executive director, passionate and knowledgeable about science and science center roles in rural areas and university towns, and appreciative of diverse cultures.

• Within two to five years: building the new center we need.

• Now and into the future: a soundly functioning, challenging, exciting, and up-to-date science center that will serve northern Minnesota exceptionally well!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

HSC Seeks New Executive Director

With the impending retirement of Dr. Laddie Elwell as Executive Director, Headwaters Science Center is actively seeking a new executive director. If you wish to apply for this position, the job description is posted on our web site along with instructions for applying. It closes on December 9, 2011. Just follow the link.

Job Title: Executive Director
Reports to: Chair of the Board of Directors
Supervises: All Center Staff and Volunteers
Posting Date: November 17, 2011
Application Due: December 9, 2011

The purpose of this position is to manage the day-to-day operations of the Headwaters Science Center consistent with the Center’s mission, plans, budgets and governance as approved and directed by the Board of Directors.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Give to the Max Day - November 16

What if you could help us win $1000 just by giving 10 bucks? On Wednesday, November 16, Give to the Max Day, you can.

 Last year 42,000 donors logged on to and gave over $10 million to Minnesota charities in 24 hours during Give to the Max Day. Together, we have the power to raise thousands of dollars for Headwaters Science Center.

Give to the Max Day amplifies your giving impact in a number of ways:

1. Win a Golden Ticket! $1,000 will be given to a random donor's charity every hour. To increase your chances of winning, make several small donations throughout the day and night, or have a donation party with some friends and organize a scheduled giving event!

2. Put us on the Leader Board! $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 prize grants will be awarded to the top three nonprofit organizations which receive the most dollars in 24 hours during Give to the Max Day.

3. $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 prize grants will be awarded to the top three small nonprofit organizations - with budgets under $750,000 (that’s us) - which receive the most dollars on Give to the Max Day. is the smart way for you to discover, support and engage with nonprofits like HSC. The online giving platform is safe and secure for credit and debit cards; you will receive automated tax deductible receipts through email, and conveniently track and record your donations in a single online location.

Please consider participating in Give to the Max Day on Wednesday, November 16. GiveMN is easy to use, and your generous gift to Headwaters Science Center will make a huge difference to our future.

You can go to the HSC web site to make a donation or go directly to our project at

Thank you

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Gave Ten


For nearly 20 years, Headwaters Science Center has served the Bemidji area and the Northern Minnesota region. However, due to a number of factors, the future of Headwaters Science Center is in jeopardy. We need your help to keep the doors open. Please show your support and help keep HSC a valuable and unique asset to the community and region.

“I GAVE TEN” is the theme of the HSC fundraiser beginning November 1, 2011. We are striving to motivate 4,000 supporters in our service area to donate a minimum of $10 each to secure a matching donation of $40,000 from an anonymous donor. This challenge has a December 15 deadline. Our ultimate goal is to raise $100,000.

HSC receives no direct public funding; we depend on grants, donations, store sales, and fees to support an annual operating budget of $229,000. Unfortunately, the current economic situation has depleted most grant opportunities and our current Director, Dr. Laddie Elwell, is retiring in February. Dr. Elwell has never received monetary compensation her 18 years of dedicated service and we are now faced with finding salary support for a new director. We need your help to overcome these challenging times.

November 16 has been selected as “Give to the Max Day” by This is an opportunity to donate on-line to Minnesota non-profits, including HSC. It allows donors to amplify their donations with up to $15,000 in prize grants! Last year, more than 42,000 donors logged on to and gave over $10 million to Minnesota charities in 24 hours during Give to the Max Day. See our web site for details or go to

What you can do to help make this a successful fund raising effort:

1. First, make a generous contribution. You can donate by mail, by phone with a credit card, or on-line with a credit card on our web site or web site.

2. Talk to your friends about contributing - spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and other media.

3. Write a letter to the editor in your local paper explaining why HSC is important to you.

Please help us keep HSC functioning as a viable educational resource.

Need to learn more about HSC? View a fact sheet.