Science museum

Houston Museum of Natural Sciences and Museum of Fine Arts make room for contributions from young people

A participant in the Moran Ecoteen program at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Photo: HMNS Moran Ecoteen Program

For the first time, a Teen Advisory Council has been created at the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS). Starting this fall, the inaugural group will work with museum staff to strengthen ties between their peers and the institution.

Applications are complete and interviews are ongoing as part of a selection process that will identify 12 to 20 members, out of over 100 high school applicants.

The new board will lead initiatives to target high school students in the area through events, volunteering and other programs, said Carolyn Leap of the museum.

This is the first step in expanding the museum’s Moran Ecoteen program to include more opportunities for the school year, she said.

Each summer, the Ecoteen program gives high school students the opportunity to volunteer in a way that includes classroom assistance at the museum’s summer day camps, helping to guide museum visitors and being trained to help respond. questions about exhibitions.

This school year, the program will expand to offer more of these types of volunteer opportunities to an age group that is “really very competent,” says Leap.

In addition to building the museum’s volunteer strength, the expanded Ecoteen program will engage young people with new events, drawing on adolescent council members to help museum staff understand how to best target and engage their group of young people. age.

“What do my peers want to do here? How can I connect with other people my age? ‘ She said, new board members will ask.

“We try not to embarrass them too much,” she said, adding that the council will have the freedom to try out creative and artistic channels to organize and publicize programming and to connect young people to museum initiatives.

That could mean trying out social media channels that are new to the museum, she says.

In the past, teen events have included a recycling campaign to raise awareness of environmental issues and the opportunity to explore science-related careers, especially listening to former high school volunteers who are now young professionals in fields. related.

One of the first events for teenagers to be organized with input from the new council will take place on December 20 in conjunction with the upcoming exhibition “Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs”.

Those interested in learning more about new events and volunteer opportunities can fill out an interest form at

At the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, applications will reopen in September for the annual teen leadership group known as hang @ MFAH (Houston Art New Generation at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston).

Eighteen high school students from the region will be selected for weekly meetings that will pair them with artist mentors for discussions on a wide range of art-related topics. In addition, the MFAH offers volunteering opportunities to secondary school students.

More information on youth programs is available by emailing [email protected]

Additionally, online applications are currently being accepted for the Teen Ambassador program at Evelyn’s Park. Bellaire Park uses Ambassadors in Grades 7-12 to help with community engagement and represent the park at events.

This includes leading art projects for children in the green space and disseminating information about the park to the public at events in the town of Bellaire.

Recently, the ambassadors made cards and other wishes for the healthcare workers at Ben Taub Hospital.

Depending on the grade level, the time spent varies from six to 20 hours per year, and many ambassadors return year after year, says park superintendent Terry Leavitt-Chavez.

Through the program, ambassadors are “exposed to speaking to people outside their own groups of friends” and can practice speaking with audiences younger and older than them, Leavitt-Chavez says.

Some ambassadors work to supplement the hours of service required by the school, she said.

When the second phase of the park opens to the public at a carnival-style family event slated for late fall, the teen ambassadors will host games and help with other aspects of the event.

The new phase offers new playgrounds and water games.

In addition to giving back to their community and learning leadership skills, says Leavitt-Chavez, the teen ambassadors “get back to nature, get away from these electronic devices (in) a place where you can feel safe.” . For more information, visit

Allison Bagley is a Houston-based writer.

  • Allison bagley

    Allison Bagley is a freelance writer for the Houston Chronicle.


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