Martinsville, Virginia


The Edgar A. Thurman Charitable Foundation for Children awards grant in support of Virginia Museum of Natural History's Science Outreach Initiative

By: Zachary Ryder, Virginia Museum of Natural History

May 13, 2024

Family Fun, History

The Edgar A. Thurman Charitable Foundation for Children has awarded the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH) a grant of $5,000 in support of the museum's Science Outreach Initiative, an ongoing effort to increase audience participation in the museum's education programming. Specifically, the funding will allow the museum to provide needs-based education programming scholarships to K-12 public schools and partnering non-profit organizations in Martinsville, Henry County, and the surrounding region.

"The Edgar A. Thurman Charitable Foundation for Children has been a dedicated supporter of the museum's ongoing efforts to make our STEM programming accessible to needs-based students throughout the community since 2022 and we are thrilled this partnership has been renewed for another year," said VMNH Deputy Director Ryan Barber. "Through this funding, area school teachers will be eligible to register their classes for educational programming offered by the museum during the 2024-25 school year and have all associated programming fees waived. Additionally, the funding will allow the museum to partner with area non-profit organizations to provide unique after-school and summer programming opportunities."

The museum offers a wide variety of educational programs designed for K-12 students that can be delivered inside museum classrooms, inside school classrooms, or through virtual programming. Teachers can select from pre-developed, standards-based programs, or request a program that is tailored to specific class needs.

"Financial barriers can often deter teachers from being able to provide their students with the distinctive experiences of museum programming," said VMNH Education and Public Programs Manager Christy Deatherage. "This partnership provides the museum with another exciting opportunity to offer our programming to students who otherwise may not have the chance to take part in a museum experience."

The museum determines eligibility for needs-based education scholarships based on the enrollment of students in free or reduced lunch programs within corresponding school districts. Requests for scholarships will open in the coming weeks and be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

In addition to programming opportunities for schools, the funding will allow the museum to continue working closely with community partners, such as MHC After 3, the Martinsville-Henry County Family YMCA, and the Boys & Girls Club of the Blue Ridge.

"For many years, the museum has partnered with area non-profit organizations to provide their students and participants with a wide variety of after-school and summer programs," said Deatherage. "Having this type of financial support is essential in allowing these successful and impactful partnerships to continue."

To learn more about the museum, including information about its educational offerings, visit