Tennessee Aquarium Launches Education Fundraising Campaign

Monday, February 25, 2013 - by Thom Benson
School groups, like this one enjoying the penguin exhibit, are challenged by rising transportation costs. The Aquarium is seeking community support to replenish funds needed to help schools cover bus transportation costs.
School groups, like this one enjoying the penguin exhibit, are challenged by rising transportation costs. The Aquarium is seeking community support to replenish funds needed to help schools cover bus transportation costs.

Giggles of delight are heard throughout the Tennessee Aquarium as students from around the region come face-to-face with penguins, touch lake sturgeon or have a colorful toucan fly overhead. These encounters not only leave a lasting impression, they also help teachers reinforce lessons taught in the classroom. “My students come here and they’re like little sponges,” said fourth grade teacher Susan Gaines after a recent Aquarium visit. “It’s a grand learning experience.”

Seeing sharks, giant catfish and other creatures is certainly fun, but it also helps fuel some lasting benefits. Studies have shown that students who receive environmental education programs score better on standardized tests, improve their overall GPA, stay in school longer, receive higher-than-average scholarship awards and display better classroom behavior. “We know interactive field trips, especially when combined with a standards-based environmental education, enrich the lives of children and help them academically and socially,” said Tim Baker, the Aquarium’s director of education.

Unfortunately, tight budgets force many school systems to make tough choices when it comes to experiential learning. In fact, 92% of teachers surveyed report that transportation costs are a major barrier when considering educational field trips to the Aquarium. Particularly hard hit are schools that serve low income areas, like the system Mrs. Gaines works for. “This year was crunch time and we would not have been able to visit without some assistance from the Aquarium,” said Ms. Gaines.

In 2012 alone, the Tennessee Aquarium covered admission and program costs for more than 30,000 underserved students and offered reduced price admission to another 55,000 students. The Aquarium has always been dedicated to covering admission costs for students in need, but today some school budgets are so lean that there is no money available for transportation costs.

The Aquarium was able to reimburse the cost of transportation for Title 1 schools from 2010-2012 thanks to a three-year grant. During that time students from 190 schools were able to come to Chattanooga to learn about the natural world.

To help bridge the transportation funding gap facing many schools, the Tennessee Aquarium has launched a fundraising campaign. The “$20 For 7 Drive for Schools” is an opportunity for individuals throughout the Tennessee Valley to help. Each $20 contribution covers the cost of transportation for seven students. “We hope people recall the impact of field trips they, and their children, experienced and will want to help ensure others have that same opportunity,” said Mr. Baker.

To support the $20 For 7 Drive for Schools, make a gift to the Tennessee Aquarium at www.tnaqua.org/contribute or via mail: Drive for Schools, P.O. Box 11048, Chattanooga, Tn. 37401.


Graves Installed As 7th GPS Head

"My name is Autumn Joy Adkins Graves, and I am the seventh head of Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and I proudly proclaim – I will lead like a girl!"  With those words at the conclusion of her installation as GPS’s Head of School, the audience of friends, family, faculty, trustees, parents, alumnae, and students rose to their feet and offered their heartfelt ... (click for more)

Dalton State Magazine: A Glimpse Into Campus Life

Jacob Southern turned to two things to help him cope with struggles growing up: fishing and God. After becoming a student at Dalton State, he added conservation biology to that list.    Set to graduate in December, mr. Southern is making great strides in undergraduate research, all while finding himself as a young adult. His story is told in the latest edition of the ... (click for more)

Bradley, 24, Charged In Death Of Boy, 3; Child Had Numerous Injuries After Left With Boyfriend; Mother Was In Workhouse

Justin Dale Bradley has been charged with criminal homicide in the death of a three-year-old child, who was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday and later died. Police said Dakota James Arndt had numerous injuries over his body. Authorities said Bradley, 24, is the boyfriend of the child's mother, Brianna Kwekel, who was in the Workhouse at the time. Ms. Kwekel was serving 48 ... (click for more)

Helen Burns Sharp Asks Recovery Of Legal Fees In Successful Black Creek TIF Lawsuit

Helen Burns Sharp, citizen activist who sued to try to stop a $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and won, is seeking to have her legal expenses paid by the city and the developers. Ms. Sharp said in a court filing that her legal bills to attorney John Konvalinka are $74,427 thus far. Chancellor Frank Brown ruled in favor of Ms. Sharp, saying the Sunshine ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)