Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Message from Susan Joy, New Director for HSC

I’m humbled and honored to be selected as the next director of the Headwaters Science Center. I visited the center in January and instantly felt the support and dedication that Bemidji has for this unique institution and the staff who make the operation of the center possible. Laddie and Jim are amazing individuals, as are all the staff and board members that I had the opportunity to meet. Everyone I spoke to had the same message, HSC is a special place, and we are dedicated to its future. I too believe that the center is a special place and I’m excited about the possibilities and challenges that lie ahead.

I grew up on a farm in Idaho, in the skinny panhandle part of the state, and some of my favorite childhood memories include visits to science centers and museums. I visited the Pacific Science Center in Seattle as a Girl Scout and my troop participated in a Camp-In event. During the winter holidays, my family would take the train east to visit relatives. Layovers in Chicago could last more than four hours and to pass the time, we would visit one of the numerous museums within a short walk or cab ride from Union Station, such as the Field Museum with its amazing paleontology collection. In Pittsburgh, visits to the Carnegie Science Museum and Buhl Planetarium could last multiple days, and visits to Washington DC revolved around the numerous Smithsonian museums. Now that I’m a parent, I take my children to museums, including science museums, to give them the exposure to a world beyond their front porch, as my parents did for me as a child.

Children and adults who visit HSC are given an opportunity to experience science, technology, and mathematics in a way that is fun and not threatening. They are also given the opportunity to experience a place that small communities, and even medium sized communities do not have, and that is a true hands-on, minds-on science center. The center has come a long way in 20 years, from an idea shared between dedicated community members to a full-fledged center. I support the mission and vision of the center and the long-term goals of developing a new, larger facility, expanding educational capacity to include more engineering, technology and mathematic aspects in addition to developing innovative and challenging science based exhibits.

I love visiting science centers and museums, they hold a special place in my history, and now I look forward to working at a very important science center, the Headwaters Science Center. Please stop by and say hello, I look forward to meeting HSC members and the community!


(Note: Susan will start her work at HSC during the first part of June)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

 Flowing With the Current . . . .

                  A HAPPY ENDING
                           A NEW BEGINNING

Updates by Laddie Elwell

Susan Joy will write the next Flowing with the Current, and by the time you read it, she will be here in Bemidji, hard at work at HSC––and learning all about Bemidji and its inhabitants. She, her husband, Dan
Karalus, and two young sons, Harper and Charlie, expect to be here the second full week of June.

I am delighted that the search for a new Headwaters Science Center director has come to a very good close. A science center is many things. First of all, science centers/museums exist to bring the curiosity, logic, fascination, energy, wisdom, and hard work of the fields of science to the public, whose component populations use the gifts of science and nature every day without recognizing them. Beyond that, centers help to bring to visitors of all ages the joy of learning new things that help to make the world an absolutely fascinating place to live. We know that science centers can change lives, hopefully for the better, and we hope that we can help equip youngsters with tools that will help them make wiser decisions as they move through the minefield of youth!

So a science center is more than a nonprofit organization (though that IRS 501(c)(3) classification is so important for educational organizations like HSC with no reliable source of financial support!), and it is more than a business, though it must try hard to support itself as much as possible.  Susan Joy will come to a center that exists because a number of people saw the need to provide new options for northern Minnesota kids and
recognized also the desires of older citizens to have a place that helps to make a little more sense out of a confusing world. It was a risky venture, and HSC exists in one of the smallest communities served by a
science center!

From my standpoint, I wish that every child who would like to spend time in HSC could do so. In a community where such a large percentage of children live in poverty, there is nothing I would like more than to allow all children to come in free, just as long as they use the facility as it is intended to be used. If I were a magician, I would provide transportation to those who need it, too! Of course I’d like to do the same for adults.

Unfortunately, reality intervenes. The electric bill comes regularly, along with many others: insurance, water, gas, and so on, and staff members must be able to help support their families, though they are underpaid considering their skills and backgrounds. Then there are supplies: paper, computer and printer cartridges, exhibits and building materials, liquid nitrogen, supplies for classes, various kinds of equipment, sea salts, and too many other things to list!

Thank goodness we have had so many wonderful donors of equipment such as computers, furniture, office supplies, refreshments, and so many other things that we would never have been able to buy! And thank goodness also that so many people give of their time to help us as volunteers, because HSC wouldn’t have come into fruition without them, nor could it continue to exist.

Susan Joy will bring new ideas and changing procedures and expectations to HSC. She will face old and new challenges and she’ll have tough decisions to make. But she brings the love and excitement of science, and she comes into a community that I believe will come to appreciate her very much.