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.


University Hosts Award-Winning Author Janisse Ray

Award-winning author, naturalist, and activist Janisse Ray will give a talk on the UTC campus about heirloom seeds, agrodiversity and the future of food. The event is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Raccoon Mountain Room of the UTC University Center. This program is presented by the Tennessee Valley chapter of Wild Ones and UTC Department of Biological and Environmental ... (click for more)

Dalton State Program Gives Non Students Chance To Further Their Education

Lynda Shenefield had an idea for a book.  But she needed help. Shenefield had no idea how to get her book published.  Then she saw a news release about an epublishing course offered at Dalton State, and thought that would be the perfect opportunity to learn what she needed to know.  At 63, Ms. Shenefield didn’t want to go through the process of enrolling as a student ... (click for more)

EPB Says It Did Not Overbill The City; Says City Got $685,877 Break

EPB officials said Tuesday that an exhaustive audit of its street light contract with the city showed that it did not overbill the city. Instead, it said it found that the city was underbilled $685,877. EPB said it only goes back one year on errors so the amount owed by the city would be $178,314. Officials said that would be discussed with the city. Stan Sewell, the city's ... (click for more)

Citizens To Comment Next Tuesday On Sound Control Ordinance That Allows Higher Sound Around Downtown Clubs

Citizens will be allowed to comment next Tuesday on a new Sound Control Ordinance that allows higher sound from nightclubs in a downtown Controlled Sound Boundary. Track 29 behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo, that has drawn the wrath of some nearby Southside residents, is within the boundary, which goes along the river on the north and west, to around Erlanger Hospital on the ... (click for more)

I'm Number One In A Round About Way

Roundabouts have been popping up all over Chattanooga over the past few years and for the most part have been successful.  Unfortunately there are some who just don’t get it as I have found out the hard way.    My latest instance was last week when a young woman on her cell phone almost t-boned me as she flew into the roundabout without yielding.  A near miss ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Oscar Brock’s True Passion

I don’t pay much attention to the Hamilton County School Board. Once the moon and the stars aligned behind Superintendent Rick Smith, you hear very little, if anything, from the nine-member council that oversees an annual budget of almost $400 million and employs 4,480 people. So chew this for a minute: approximately 2,000 of those people are not teachers. Yes, there are 78 principals ... (click for more)