The Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs was one of 10 museums and libraries nationwide honored during a ceremony Wednesday at the White House. It received a medal for community service, which is the highest award given to such institutions in the U.S.
In particular, Janelle Brevard with the Institute of Museum and Library Services touted the work of former volunteer and employee Casey Wylie as the award was presented.
"At the museum, she brought innovative science programming to children at 15 schools across Arkansas, including low income schools where children had minimal exposure to science. Until joining the museum's staff, Casey had been disillusioned by the education system, but credits working there with reigniting her passion for teaching," Brevard told the crowd.
Wylie and Executive Director Diane LaFollette then accepted the award from First Lady Michelle Obama.
Wylie is now a fifth grade science teacher pursuing a master's degree in teaching.
"If I hadn't been at the Mid-America Science Museum, I never would've become a teacher," Wylee said in a news release from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. "The experience of being a hands-on educator at the museum reawakened by passion for working with children and helping them make discoveries."
The institute says its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. It is the primary source of federal support for the nation's roughly 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums.
The museum in Hot Springs was established in 1979 and is the only Smithsonian affiliate in Arkansas.