Saturday, November 27, 2010

Update by Laddie Elwell, Director

Flowing With the Current . . . .

                        Your Gifts to US

There’s always a lot going on at HSC––people of all ages coming in for all kinds of reasons, records to keep, endless ringing of the telephone, and the demands of e-mail and internet. Those items don’t begin to compare with demands of animal care, exhibit repair and refurbishment, cleaning, and all the preparations that staff embers must make for presentations and youth groups. Recently we re-stocked our Science Store, and there’s a lot of work to ordering, unpacking and checking the orders, pricing everything, and getting it all in the right places.

I’m writing this shortly before Thanksgiving Day, and that’s a day that, I suspect, makes us all think of the special people who impact our lives. But I’m thinking especially of the appreciation that all of us at Headwaters Science Center feel for the volunteers who carry out so many tasks, and I cannot even think how we could function if staff members had to do everything that volunteers do.

Our website was established and is attended to daily by John Mathisen, who constantly reminds all of us of coming events, financial opportunities, and unmet needs. John has also taken most of the photographs in our archives, and most of those on the website. He and his wife, Ann, have been active right from HSC’s beginning 18 or 19 years ago. John was a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Forest Service on the Chippewa National Forest in his “former life,” and was a member of the National Bald Eagle Recovery Team. Ann Mathisen is a botanist, and has been responsible for the array of wild flowers and other local plants that is in our entry area and has provided “The Science of Stamps” exhibits.

Julie Bengtson is another original HSC supporter who continues to undertake exhibits and big fund raising events. She not only edits this newsletter and attends to its publishing and mailing, but has built exhibits, served on our Board, organizes computer records, designs windows and our donor recognition area, and has been very instrumental in raising badly-needed funds for the Center. She even made the large “Headwaters Science Center” sign on the outside of our building!

Boyd Ferrell has also been with HSC for most of our existence. Seventeen years ago he walked into our mostly empty building with a tiny model of what is now our harmonograph, or, as he calls it more correctly, our symmetrograph. We didn’t know it would be that big, or that complex, but it has been a star performer for about 15 years. What few people know is that it is designed in such a way that advanced college level physics students could use it as a physics experiment by moving weights around inside it! Boyd also built our windmill and the telegraph in the Communications exhibit. He has a rich past in industry, but among his varied jobs he was a real telegrapher; only those of us past middle age remember when a telegram was the primary means of communicating over distances.

Years ago, we were having problems installing a large microscope when Barry Lyons offered to help out. Barry not only installed the microscope, but has helped fix or install many items in the Center since then. He has served on our Board and has recently helped with two exhibits. The best part is that we know who we can call whenever we need help!

I don’t know how many years Richard Johnson has been coming in on a six-day-a-week basis, but we would be lost without him! He dusts the store, organizes our inventory and takes out items that have been mistreated, shovels snow, sweeps the walk, replaces paper towels and light bulbs, and does all kinds of other things. He is a gem!

Many of you respond to items listed in our “Wish List” that appears in all our newsletter issues, and we very much appreciate that. Our star responder is Joan Ditty, who manages to find an incredible array of items that we use in presenting programs and exhibits, caring for animals, and storing or cleaning things. We appreciate it more than words can say!

If you’ve inspected our marine tank, with its fish, corals, sea urchin and sea star, you may be aware that the Northern Minnesota Reef Club has been highly instrumental in setting up and maintaining the tank. Key people in making that happen are Frank and Susan Hazard. Frank made the trek over to Menahga to pick up the 190- gallon tank and associated heavy equipment from donor Michelle Rinke. Susan made contact with the Reef Club and has also been involved in brochure design, window decoration, fundraising, and many other aspects of Center operations. Frank served on the Board and has helped with many projects at HSC. The Hazards were the owners of the wonderful large electric trains that were at HSC two years ago. That adventure was pretty hard on the trains!

HSC doesn’t have an historian, and the closest we come to having a written history is Board records AND the notebooks filled with clippings from The Pioneer and other newspapers or other sources whenever we can find them. Jean Daily took on the job of finding, cutting out, and entering these materials into the pages of the notebooks that we have been trying to keep since 1991. When Jean took over about a year ago, we had a pile of newspapers that we had collected over a two-year period that no one had even cut out, so she had a tough catch-up period.

Anyone who has kept animals knows that birds are the creatures who are most demanding in terms of keeping them clean and properly fed. Amy Granlund, who is a real-life chemist, comes in regularly to help with our raptors, who are quite messy individuals and expect to eat fresh meat. Amy has worked hard to learn them so that she is one of those entrusted with their care.

Another animal-lover is Sarah Vaughn, who comes in twice a week to care for animals, especially snakes. She is meticulous in carrying out her tasks and is a pleasure to have at HSC!

Science Club is a regular weekly activity at HSC that takes lots of staff time. Antton Oja generously gives of his time to help out with activities at Science Club and BooFest. Antton was one of our own Science Center Kids when he was a youngster, and it is wonderful to see him helping now with the younger kids, who really look up to him.

The new exhibition on respiration and circulation as they relate to nutrition and exercise will be at least partly on display in prototype form in December. Muriel Gilman, professor of Physical Education, and Susan Carlson, a cardiac nurse at Bemidji Regional Hospital, have been working with me for two years to develop the basis of the exhibition.

A relatively new volunteer is a recent college graduate in biology who loves animals––and appears to be loved by them. Erin Maxson comes in regularly to observe and care for HSC’s creatures, though her special interest happens to be invertebrates. Our box turtle, Steve, recently had a fungal infection of his shell, and Erin seems to have been able to reverse the infection and encourage him to eat. Steve has since gained an eighth of a pound and is noticeably more active.

Other volunteers help us out enormously, and our Board of Directors, whose names are on the back page of this Current, are certainly included among them. Board members are very grateful to Jeanne Edevold Larson for her marvelous help last June!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Give to the Max Day - November 16

November 16 is the Big Day for Giving!

What if you could help Headwaters Science Center win $1000 just by giving 10 bucks? On November 16, Give to the Max Day, you can.

Last year, more than 38,000 donors logged on to and gave over $14 million to more than 3,000 Minnesota charities and nonprofits in 24 hours during Give to the Max Day. This year, the goal is to beat our own record by engaging 40,000 donors during the second annual Give to the Max Day on November 16. Headwaters Science Center, together with – a first-of-its-kind giving website for nonprofits in Minnesota – is working to create a stronger nonprofit community for Minnesota.

Give to the Max Day amplifies your giving impact in two ways:

1. Win a Golden Ticket! $1,000 will be given to a random donor’s charity every hour. You could be that donor!

2. Put us on the Leader Board! Your donation on November 16, could put us on the leader board to win $10,000 or even $20,000 for the most number of donors for our nonprofit. Help us get “on the board!”

Go to this page to make a donation or visit the HSC web site and click on the Donate button. It's easy, tax deductible and secure.

What is GiveMN? is the smart way for you to discover, support and engage with the charities that are right for you. The online giving platform allows you to easily find organizations that match your giving goals, support them through secure credit or debit card donations, receive automated tax deductible receipts through email, and conveniently track and record your donations in a single online location.

As you consider your charitable end-of-year giving, please consider participating in Give to the Max Day on Nov. 16.  GiveMN is easy to use, and your gift to Headwaters Science Center will make a huge difference to our ongoing work.