North Country Children's Museum: The Room Where it Happens

by Oscar Castillo

2019

For the past two weeks, SLU PIC has provided me with the opportunity to work with the North Country Children’s Museum, which is currently in the construction process. After 5 years of hosting weekly educational programs in the North Country, the museum will permanently welcome visitors early February 2018. The museum has officially purchased the building in downtown Potsdam, NY.

The first role I was given as an intern was running the museum’s social media platforms.  I currently run the NCCM’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. Every other weekend there is a traveling educational program. This past Saturday, I participated in the Art Studio program at the Fort Drum Library in Watertown, NY. We had children create fun collages and printmaking. I think that one of my favorite things of these programs is traveling to nearby towns to promote our mission which is to participate in hands-on, minds on activity. In addition, working with children allows me to gain teaching skills. In other words, I get to work with different students which require different levels of attention. I have found pleasure in helping children become more creative with art, science, technology and engineering.

In addition, I get to be in the room where everything happens. I get to sit down with adults from very different backgrounds to discuss a museum’s layout. Many ideas are thrown around the room about building codes, general admission prices and budget management. Being in these meetings has allowed me to discover my career options. I have learned that I want to plan exhibitions or museums as a career. Just last week there was an architect meeting over building a handicap ramp for the museum. We discussed floor plans and went over building codes which was amazing as I further understood legal documents for construction sites.

Another big part of my job has been grant writing. Sharon Williams, the executive director of the museum has guided me through grants she has written in the past. I use these written grants as templates for writing new grants. It is important to note that prior to SLU PIC, I have never written a grant. I have been working on a grant application for a Lowe’s foundation. I will work on several grants over the summer to further gain financial awards in order to continue the construction for the museum. I view grant writing for the museum as a balanced reciprocity, I provide the museum with completed grants and the museum provides me with writing skills. The construction of the museum will serve as a service-learning experience for other college students, as Potsdam is home to SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson. In fact, SUNY Canton student volunteers enrolled in the Building and Engineering Degree Program will help carry out this construction project.

It has been an honor to form part of this non-profit organization as it will be up and running very soon. It will serve as a family center for locals and visitors to encourage inquiry, creativity and higher education.