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News & Press: Advocacy

Museum Advocacy Day: A First Timer's Report

Friday, February 28, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sarah Keil Roach
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After almost a year of being back in the museum profession, I was excited to participate in my first Museum Advocacy Day on February 25th. As a newbie in Utah Museums, and to the Utah Museums Association Board, I welcomed the experience. I’m pretty much a museum nerd so most museum related activities are exciting for me. In proper nerd fashion, I printed off the emails and homework assignments to get myself prepared. With some creative back up we created a one-sheet flyer about Wheeler Historic Farm.  I asked our veteran museum gal, Jennifer, to participate with me. Luckily, Jennifer saved the day by taking care of the table display, including transport.

My kids were excited too, since they got to be dropped off at school at 7:00 am. My third grader got up, dressed, and ready at 5:30 am—no alarm or anything! My first grader wasn’t quite as thrilled, but he pulled himself together so we could get out the door. It was a beautiful day, and I made it on time at 7:30 am so I was able to walk in with Jennifer.

The last time I was in the grand Capitol building was in 2008 for a job interview. At that time it felt like an ominous cold building. Today’s circumstances were much more relaxed, though I was still a bit nervous, not quite knowing what to expect. We went about setting up our table and helping get the other table coverings ready to go. The Rotunda was a great backdrop for the museums that sat up with displays ranging from brochures, to hands on activities, to live animals. We had a great view of the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium crew with snakes and tarantula’s out to greet visitors. I thought maybe I should have brought a lamb!

When we were called to the opening meeting the importance of the day settled in. It dawned on me that it is really important for our government leadership to have a human face to attach to these museums and historic sites we work so hard to keep afloat. I was glad that I came!

At 9:30 am we were called to gather and visit the House of Representatives. Following our instructions, I had my green sheet filled out with my representative’s name and a short note. Following the protocol we turned in the slip and then made our way to sit in the spectator section of the House. All of us participating in Museum Advocacy Day were “introduced” to the floor. We then moved back down to wait for our Representative to come out to talk with us. By the time we made it back to the waiting area, my Representative was out looking for me before I even made it down the stairs! We had a short chat and I was happy to learn that Rep. Marie Poulson was quite familiar with Wheeler Farm and a frequent visitor with her grandchildren. Lucky us! I spent some more time in the waiting area talking with Lisa from the Whitaker Museum.

I spent time getting to know my table-neighbors and finding out about more museums I needed to add to my museum-visit-bucket list. After snacking up a bit, we went up to the Senate. At 11:30 am, again following the directions,   I had my blue sheet to turn in with my Senator’s name and a short note and then took a spot to wait and watch for my Senator. Sen. Shiozawa came out pretty quickly and after some other constituents and I met with him, I was able to thank him for his work on pushing for additional museum funding and chat with him about Wheeler Farm. I think my 90-second elevator speech was about 15 seconds, but he was already a fan of the Farm, so I was glad for that!

I was feeling pretty good that Wheeler Farm was familiar to both of my legislators. I really enjoyed getting to meet other museum staff and representatives. I now have a better idea of what I should wear—and I was happy to see that I wouldn’t be alone if I showed up in an old-timey frock. And I was happy to know that the Zoo has Roaches, though I don’t think we’re related!

Sara Keil Roach, Curator at Wheeler Historic Farm, is one of the newest members to the Utah Museums Association Board. She brings a wealth of museum experience and enthusiasm to the Utah museum community and Wheeler Farm is lucky to have her!

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