From the moment we ran the first story about a proposal to establish a children’s museum in Marion County, we knew Frank Jarman had planted a huge seed, an acorn even.
With a little footwork, including bringing in consultants to give input on organizational management, nonprofit structure and fundraising, and scouting sites to locate the facility, the Marion County Discovery Center is coming to life in a big way.
We believe this is exactly what Marion County, if not all of North Central West Virginia, needs right now as we continue to slog through the COVID pandemic and all of the uncertainty that is its collateral damage. But, even without COVID, this is a spectacular thing.
We proudly salute Jarman and the Discovery Center’s board of directors who are quickly moving to purchase the former location of LIFE United Methodist Church to become the museum’s home.
Jarman and the board have also made connections with a paleontologist who, during his career, spent time digging up actual dinosaurs that once roamed the earth. Ray Garton, owner and curator of Prehistoric Plant in Barrackville, has offered to lease some of the dinosaur skeletons he has collected to the museum because, in his experience, dinosaur displays generate excitement.
This is exciting stuff.
And if a paleontologist isn’t enough, Jarman has enlisted veteran educator Margie Suder as Discovery Center board vice chair. She brings with her years of experience designing curriculum that sparks kids’ imaginations in a hands-on manner.
This is a step in the right direction for science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics that comes at the right time in our country. It’s also a positive step for the children of Marion County in that the museum will be a place where children can be challenged to imagine, learn new things and stretch their minds.
But, the vision is not centered solely on Marion County.
When it’s completed, and COVID has left the landscape, the museum could become the new popular thing for school children in a five-county area. Imagine busloads of students coming in and out of the Discovery Center on a routine schedule throughout the school year, all in the name of science and the other related disciplines.
And, on weekends, the Discovery Center, will be bustling with families and children taking part in a multitude of activities.
Now, while the excitement is brewing, there is a role we can all play for the Discovery Center.
Facing a $300,000 cost for buying the former church, we urge the community to do whatever possible — through donations — to help bring the museum to life.
It would be sad for the nonprofit to open up being almost half a million dollars in debt. And, because it is a certified federal nonprofit under Internal Revenue Service code, donations are tax-deductible.
And while the Discovery Center will be a nonprofit, it will likely create a few jobs and require enlisting a cadre of community volunteers and docents who will help provide an enriching experience for its guests regardless of their age.
The seed is planted and now we’re just sitting back waiting for the mighty oak to grow.