Campus: CSU Chico -- October 23, 2002

CSU Chico Natural History Museum to Receive $3 Million from Proposition 40

Governor Gray Davis announced Monday that he has allocated $3 million of Proposition 40 funds to the campaign to build the Northern California Natural History Museum at California State University, Chico.

"Our communities grow stronger when we preserve our natural and cultural heritage," Governor Davis said. "Nowhere is that more true or important as in the North State-one of the most environmentally precious regions of California."

"We are very grateful to Governor Davis and the state for this funding," said Judy Sitton, president of the Northern California Natural History Museum 's Board of Directors, "but most importantly, we are very encouraged by the state's recognition of the urgent need for a museum where the children of Northern California can learn about their priceless heritage of natural beauty and natural resources."

CSU, Chico President Manuel Esteban said, "We are proud that this unique partnership between the university and the community of Northern California has won the state support it richly deserves. We look forward to lending our campus resources to the goal of educating the children of Northern California about their natural heritage, and to inspiring them to continue their education at the college level, wherever they choose to attend."

Proposition 40-the Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act passed last spring-includes projects promoting conservation of California's natural and cultural resources in its scope. Seven North State projects, including the Northern California Natural History Museum, will receive Prop. 40 funds, the governor said, for a total of $17.9 million.

Museum Executive Director Raymond Barnett, professor of biological sciences at CSU, Chico, noted that the Proposition 40 funding brings the campaign two-thirds of the way to its $9 million goal, and promises to inspire additional donors to step forward to complete the task soon.

"With six counties in Northern California sending kids to college at half the statewide rate, it's clear that our hard-working K-12 teachers need a major regionwide resource to help inspire their kids and open up the world of scientific exploration of the region that is their home," Barnett said. "With our central location, our campus connection and our plans for state-of-the-art interactive exhibits, we can make a difference."

Governor Davis' Secretary of Resources, Mary Nichols, has also endorsed the museum, writing that "Public education celebrating the value of our natural resources is an essential component in garnering continued support for the conservation efforts of the Resources Agency."

"The Proposition 40 funding certainly continues our fund-raising momentum," Board President Sitton said. "We are confident that we'll soon reach our $9 million goal, as more people learn about the need for a museum focusing on Northern California's heritage. With such a facility, we can contribute to educating our region's children, and motivate them to continue their schooling at the college level and beyond. This also invites children to learn more about the sciences."

Those interested in exploring donations to the museum can contact museum Major Gifts Director Jessee Allread at 530-894-2848.

To be located on campus land adjacent to the Bidwell Mansion off Chico's historic Esplanade, the 15,000-square-foot museum will emphasize a spacious, visitor-friendly atmosphere, a fully-equipped classroom including lab and computer facilities, a gallery for constantly-changing traveling exhibits and permanent exhibits exploring "The Worlds of Northern California" (the coast, valley, foothills and high mountains) and "The Ages of Northern California" (the Mesozoic dinosaurs, the Pleistocene mammoths and saber-toothed cats). Interactive features and walk-through immersion habitat dioramas will engage visitors and promote a fun, active learning and recreational experience.

The museum's Board of Directors is currently composed of 23 prominent Northern California citizens, drawn from many parts of the region, from Roseville to Little River to Oroville to Chico. The board has been actively raising funds for nearly two years for the project. CSU, Chico President Esteban has made the museum one of his top fund-raising projects, in addition to committing the campus site for the museum.

CONTACT: Joe Wills, 530-898-4143

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