The Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville hosted its 25th Annual Thomas Jefferson Awards ceremony at the Library of Virginia in Richmond on February 9. The museum's Thomas Jefferson Awards is a statewide event that honors individuals and corporations for outstanding contributions to natural science and natural science education.
"The Virginia Museum of Natural History is a wonderful statewide institution," said Virginia Delegate M. Kirkland Cox (R), house majority leader. "The museum has fascinating collections and a great educational focus."
The Thomas Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Natural Science was presented to Dr. Richard K. Bambach, professor emeritus of paleontology at Virginia Tech. Bambach is also a research associate in the department of paleobiology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, and an associate of the Harvard Herbarium at Harvard University. This award is presented to an individual who has consistently made outstanding contributions to natural history. The award was presented by John Ross, past chair of the Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited.
The Thomas Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Natural Science Education was presented to Maryellen Susan Gilley, wildlife education coordinator/project WILD state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Gilley also serves as a member of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' Conservation Education Working Group and is a lifetime member of Girl Scouts USA for 50 years. This award is presented to a Virginia educator who has made significant contributions to natural history or natural science education at any academic level. The award was presented by Dr. Denny Casey, director of education and public programs at the museum.
The William Barton Rogers Corporate Award was presented to the National Wild Turkey Federation, and was accepted on the Federation's behalf by Bob Duncan, executive director of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. This award is given to a corporation that has shown significant support for the natural sciences in Virginia, through contributions to research, science education, or other relevant programs of the Virginia Museum of Natural History. The award was presented by David Johnson, executive director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The Thomas Jefferson Award for Conservation was presented to The Garden Club of Virginia, and was accepted by Kim Nash, president of the organization. This award is presented by the VMNH Foundation in recognition of significant conservation efforts in Virginia. The Garden Club of Virginia consists of 47 garden clubs throughout the Commonwealth, whose members collectively form a group of more than 3,300 civic leaders throughout Virginia. The award was presented by Dr. David Jones, a member of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Museum of Natural History Foundation.
"The hard work and dedication that today's award recipients have displayed toward education and natural science is an inspiration to Virginians across the Commonwealth," said Governor Bob McDonnell.
In celebration of the Thomas Jefferson Awards, February 9 was also Virginia Natural History Day. The museum displayed a temporary exhibit at the General Assembly Building in Richmond from February 6-10, providing information about the museum and its statewide and global research and education programs. In addition, the museum's educators presented interactive educational programs on fossils to all 2nd grade students at Chimborazo Elementary School in Richmond on February 10. This program was correlated with the latest Virginia Standards of Learning.
The 25th Annual Thomas Jefferson Awards and Virginia Natural History Day was supported by McGuire Woods."The Virginia Museum of Natural History remains one of Virginia's most prestigious research institutions," said Natural Resources Secretary Doug Domenech. "It is fitting that they recognize these outstanding Virginians and organizations for their work."
About the Virginia Museum of Natural History The Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville seeks to increase understanding of and appreciation for the natural history of the Commonwealth through education, research, collections, publications and exhibits. The museum - an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution - is accredited by the American Association of Museums, a distinction earned by fewer than 10 percent of museums in the United States. The museum is a member of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Virginia Association of Museums, Heritage Preservation, and is an agency of the Secretary of Natural Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is closed on Sundays, as well as Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Admission is $5 for adults; $4 for senior citizens and college students; $3 for children and youth 3-18; members and children under 3 receive free admission. Visit www.vmnh.net to learn more.