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May 17, 2016
BENEFITING: Monmouth Museum and Cultural Center
Monmouth Museum Needs Funds to help expand an Outdoor Classroom in The Betty Jean and Karl Meyer Art & Nature Area
In October 2015, the Monmouth Museum expanded by adding a multifaceted outdoor area that serves as a classroom for the appreciation of art and nature. This area has encouraged our educational programs to spill out into a "nature learning center" where the sky is literally the limit!
The design is modeled after "Nature Explore Classrooms" promoted nationally by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Dimensions Educational Research Center. Betty Jean Meyer of Little Silver initially provided the donation that made the area a reality. She said, "I'm 87 but I still remember day camp and sitting on the banks of the Susquehanna River, listening to tales of the past, legends and lore. It put new thoughts in my head, gave me a new sense of imagination that always stayed with me. I wanted to share that with children today."
Meyer was perfectly placed as a Museum volunteer and a member of the Navesink Garden Club to draw supporters to her cause. The Club enlisted the help of Monmouth County Master Gardeners last summer to clear brush, paint picnic tables and established a native plant garden in the first phase of the installation. Many Navesink Garden Members came out and painted , cleaned and coordinated several activities to get the Art & Nature Area established. Over 20 members came out to help, support and show their love for Betty Jean on Opening Day last September. They are committed to partnering with the Museum in the future activities of the Meyer Art & Nature Area.
The nature area eventually also will include areas where children can sort and identify nature finds from pinecones to mushrooms, build birdfeeders, gather for talks by naturalists, create art and sculpture from natural materials. Visitors are welcomed to The Meyer Art & Nature Area by "Stella", a large magenta dinosaur created by the late Monmouth County sculptor Jim Gary from a collection of auto parts.
The ultimate goals of this new area are to provide another exhibition space for sculpture that can be installed outside; to provide an outdoor classroom where visitors can learn about native plants, insects, bird identification, and butterflies; and to provide an inviting area where visitors can have a picnic, enjoy nature and gain a better appreciation of our environment.
Some materials have been donated to get this project off the ground - a set of gardening tools from the Ames Tool Company, for instance, but all of the labor so far is the work of volunteers.
Betty Jean’s dream is a perfect example of if you build it, they will come, says Avis Anderson, Executive Director of the Museum. This nature area will provide a new outdoor area to continue our mission providing arts, history and science education to our community.