by Samantha Gibbs
Chucalissa strives to educate the public in many ways. We offer many educational programs, tours, and events at the museum. However, we also educate people by participating in many events around the Memphis and Mid-South area. In fact, public outreach is one of my favorite aspects of working at Chucalissa. These types of events not only create exposure for the museum, but also allow us to network, meet different communities, and even develop potential partnerships with organizations.
A couple of weekends ago I attended Shelby Farms’ Down to Earth Festival. The festival was an exhibition of different environmental organizations around Memphis. The main goal of the event was to educate the public on how to incorporate being green into everyday lifestyle. I attended the event to represent Chucalissa as not only an educational facility, but also a place that acknowledges environmental activities and awareness.
The festival was located at Shelby Farms’ visitor center. Walking towards the park, I noticed many types of organizations. The Humane Society, Hooker Farms (a farm from my hometown of Milan, TN), local artists, and many different types of food vendors were present. I sat next to various green organizations located in the Memphis area. One was the Mid-South Trails Association. We had great discussions on the benefit of trail systems. I was pleased to talk to him about Chucalissa’s nature trail, which is in the process of being updated. Our trail is a ½ mile loop with a connection to T.O. Fuller State Park’s six mile trail system. On the ½ mile loop we have several numbered markers. These markers describe prehistoric facts about Chucalissa and the natural environment. Additionally, the trail has a medicinal plant sanctuary and an arboretum. The AmeriCorps team currently working with Chucalissa is in the process of building a rain shelter for the trail, which will be designed by Graduate Assistant Allison Hennie.
The festival always allows for people to meet and discuss what they love about the local area. Festival visitors came to our booth and shared favorite memories and stories of Chucalissa, and were interested in our future activities. A woman from the downtown area described her memories of the mounds and exhibits when she visited as a child. Various children came to our table to talk about their recent field trips to the museum. Their favorite part was throwing darts with atl atls! Many teachers and educators stopped by our table to ask about educational programming at the museum. I was pleased to discuss our upcoming summer camp titled Art for Voice. This camp will provide children the opportunity to learn about art through music, drawing, and many other creative outlets. For more information please call the museum at 901.785.3160 and check out the camp’s flyer.
City festivals allow the local community to learn new things and to spread knowledge about various issues, programming, and other events. If you did not get the chance to visit the Down to Earth Festival this year, I highly suggest going next year. You will learn new ways to be environmentally friendly at work, at home, and when you are travelling. Be sure to look out for our table and ask about any upcoming events!