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.


Nuclear Regulatory Commission Awards Scholarship Funds To Chattanooga State

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has awarded $146,845 to fund scholarships for students in nuclear-related programs at Chattanooga State Community College. The donation made to the Chattanooga State’s Nuclear Scholarship Program will provide 32 scholarships to full-time students majoring in one of four nuclear-related programs of study in the Engineering ... (click for more)

New $1.1 Million Gift Establishes W. Max Finley Chair For Excellence In American Business At UTC

Continuing a legacy of support for UTC, a $1.1 million gift from the Finley family has created the W. Max Finley Chair for Excellence in American Business to honor the entrepreneurial energy and career of the late W. Max Finley, former chairman of the RockTenn Corporation.  The W. Max Finley Chair will employ or retain a distinguished faculty member for the UTC College of ... (click for more)

Deputy Beaten After Vehicle Crashes In His Yard Sues Officers

A man who was mistakenly beaten by officers who had been pursuing a pickup truck that crashed into his home has sued Hamilton County and the officers for $700,000. Aaron Lucas Shelton and his wife, Heather Nicole Shelton, filed the suit in Circuit Court. Aaron Shelton is himself a deputy sheriff. It names Curtis Brian Killingsworth and unknown officers who allegedly took part ... (click for more)

Signal Council, Residents Concerned About Unsafe Driving En Route To Schools

The town council of Signal Mountain is dealing with a traffic problem caused by increased traffic to and from Signal Mountain Middle High School and Nolan Elementary. Mayor Dick Gee said, “This is a tough issue that we wouldn’t have to deal with if everyone would drive responsibly.” The main concern is for safety and in November the council agreed to try to fix the problem by ... (click for more)

We Ought To Pay Our Own Way

The government is too big. It has never been bigger - by any measure. It spends more money than any other single actor in our society. From Blue Rhinos to providing telecommunications services, our government knows no bounds. We’ve gone from a free enterprise system to a public enterprise system.  I'm not an artist. I'm not terribly tech savvy. The part of government that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden On March 1

As I try to do at the beginning of each month, I stroll through my garden to see the good and the bad. This morning there is still a solid covering of snow but, as usual, there is still a lot to see. March is historically known for “coming in like a lion and leaving like a lamb” so let’s see who gets what: A LAMB to the fact 90-year-old Floyd Hartwig of Easton, Calif., and his ... (click for more)