Science Center Back in Business
ANCHORAGE – There was an odd silence at the BLM Campbell Creek Science Center during the government shutdown between Oct. 1 and Oct. 16. There were no sounds of children.
As a result of the shutdown, 19 school programs and 6 meetings were canceled, affecting nearly 1,200 students, teachers, parents, and community members. Those affected included:
· 850 school children, teachers, and parent chaperones who had been scheduled to come for field trips, after-school programs, and weekend family days on energy, ecosystems, Alaska animals and plants, and other outdoor topics.
· 350 community members planning to use the Science Center rooms for trail and club meetings, leadership development training, nonprofit meetings, government training, chickadee research, and a public lecture series.
“The government shutdown was a reminder to us of how many people value the Campbell Creek Science Center and how many citizens benefit from the amazing education programs offered by the BLM,” says Amanda Smith, president of the Friends of the Campbell Creek Science Center. “Hundreds of students were not able to explore hands-on science education during some of the most beautiful weeks of the year.”
The Bureau of Land Management provides the salaries of three full-time employees as well as maintenance of the Science Center facility. Visitor fees and Friends group support provide critical additional funds to pay for intermittent instructors for the 900 annual programs serving nearly 37,000 annual visitors. The shutdown resulted in lost revenues of nearly $12,500 from program fees and rentals.
“Unlike full-time federal employees, our 9 intermittent science instructors did not receive any back pay,” said Jeff Brune, manager of the Science Center. “These hard-working, talented staff took a real hit to their income.”
Efforts are being made to reschedule as many of the school programs as possible in the already packed calendar of field trips and events. “It is so wonderful to hear the laughter of children again,” says Brune. “We’re thrilled to be back in business – helping to connect kids and adults to the natural world around us!”