By Stephenie Berggrun
Many interpretive organizations offer outreach services. These services include bringing the organization’s resources, collections, and educational programs to other institutions. Outreach services help reach groups that may not otherwise be exposed and provide another means of fulfilling an organization’s mission. Opportunities include community festivals, professional development events and school presentations. Some organizations limit their outreach services to the county, others are capable of sending educators across state lines.
Along with the benefits outreach programs create, come some challenges. Outreach educators must discover ways of protecting their materials during transport, getting the word out about their mobile services, coordinating with schools on program space, and so on.
At The Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia, NC, we are starting our outreach program back up after a lull due to funding. One of the challenges we are facing involves growing our business and getting the word out that our outreach program is back. We are mailing targeted program flyers to nearby schools with mixed success. We are also periodically posting outreach related information on our Facebook page. One of the difficult decisions we currently face is will selectively providing some free programs create future revenue? With our program’s future success riding on this year’s revenue, it’s a risky choice.
I welcome any advice from fellow outreach educators. Let’s open a dialogue and brainstorm ways to solve common problems.
What challenges do you face? How do you overcome them? Share your thoughts here and on our Facebook group. Or, contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.