The Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources at Smackover has been selected as the recipient of the 2014-2015 Region 4 Park of the Year Award and the Outstanding Interpretive Program Award by Arkansas State Parks, according to State Parks Director Greg Butts.
The Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources is located two miles south of Smackover on Arkansas 7 and is one of the 52 state parks operated by the State Parks Division, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
The State Parks Division presents awards annually for park excellence within Arkansas’s state parks system. The awards were announced at the annual business meeting of the park superintendents.
The 2014-2015 awards honor the Park of the Year, five region winners and awards for outstanding park maintenance, hospitality, volunteer program, resource management, interpretive program, and special event.
“Visitor comments, maintenance and operations, budget management, revenue production, interpretive program development, volunteer program activities, community public relations, resource management and many other factors are considered in selecting the award recipients,” Butts said.
Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources is the Region 4 winner of the 2014-2015 Park of the Year Award. The 12 other parks in Region 4 are Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro; Conway Cemetery State Park at Walnut Hill; Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area near Wickes; Daisy State Park at Daisy; Historic Washington State Park at Washington; Logoly State Park at McNeil; Marks’ Mill State Park near Fordyce; Millwood State Park near Ashdown; Moro Bay State Park near Jersey; Poison Spring State Park near Camden; South Arkansas Arboretum at El Dorado and White Oak Lake State Park near Bluff City.
“Superintendent Pam Beasley and the staff at Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources bring credit to the State of Arkansas with their outstanding work and accomplishments. This award recognizes their efforts, the public’s response to those efforts, and focuses on their exemplary work in all areas of park management over the past year,” Butts said.
Recognizing Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources for its outstanding fiscal year efforts, Butts said the park generated revenues increased 8 percent above projections and 25.5 percent above FY14. The park reduced total park expenses by 9.7 percent during the year.
Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources provides educational programs coinciding with changing temporary exhibits every six months. All programs relate to the museum’s mission and are designed with curriculum based programming for all school grades beginning with Pre-K. Common Core State Standards are incorporated in the presentation of each math and English related park program and the New Generation Science Standards are on the horizon for all science programs. Programs are all designed with Curriculum Common Core and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in mind. These programs are made available to schools, including those from north Louisiana, and across Arkansas.
The staff at AMNR research and create new interpretive program concepts and ideas, Beasley said. Two exhibits, “Shaping Our World” and “Dinosaurs: Fossils Exposed,” provided mission-based programs that connected children and adults alike to Arkansas’s past. Every second Saturday of each month the park offered a three-hour program called “Tinker Time,” with STEM incorporated into the programs. AMNR partnered with several state and federal agencies by providing reciprocating programs. The Award winning Natural State Chautauqua Program celebrated its 15th year in 2015.
The maintenance staff at AMNR completed six major maintenance projects in FY15. These included cleaning and painting four oil field pumping units, pouring a concrete pad to display a sundry of collection pieces too large to store inside, two restroom renovations allowing for ADA compliance, replacement of halon bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs in the parking lot, replacement of the HVAC at the collection management building and replacement of the halon suppression panel in the library, Beasley said.
Volunteers help maintain facilities and provide programs and a total of 53 volunteers logged over 396 hours. Volunteers and donations include the Friends of AMNR which donated over $29,300 in goods and services. Additional donations include the Arkansas Discovery Network, sponsored in part through a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation which pays travel expenses for exhibits, provides training in fund raising and personnel issues, and assists with supplies and equipment. Volunteers assist with workshops, school days, evening programs and large annual special events like the Fall Festival and the Holiday Light Extravaganza.