The Stark Museum of Art and Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center are the joint recipient of the 2011 Award for Excellence in Programming from the Mountain-Plains Museum Association Education Committee. The Association recognized the Stark Museum and Shangri La for their collaborative Art and Nature EcoRangers Camps.

The award “recognizes exemplary creativity and innovation in museum educational programming in the region.” The Stark Museum and Shangri La work together to offer camps that connect art and natural science for children entering grades 4-8. Educators Amelia Wiggins and Ellen Dacy planned and implemented the award-winning camps with support from the entire Stark Museum of Art staff and Shangri La staff. The camps “Colors to Dye For” and “Flocks of Feathered Friends” provided interdisciplinary experiences in a shared setting of art museum and nature center.

The Mountain Plains Museum Association is a 10-state regional museum association. It provides services to museums in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

Ellen Dacy, Environment Educator at Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, commented on the history and growth of the program, “Shangri La has had a successful history of EcoRanger camps for over a decade, and our collaboration with the Stark Museum of Art has allowed us a fascinating new dimension to the programs we now offer. It is very rewarding being part of the process of teaching our campers to connect science and nature to art and in turn find art in nature.”

From the Stark Museum, Amelia Wiggins, Educator, Public Programs, added, “We are proud of our collaboration with Shangri La, which has resulted in a series of inspiring summer camps that give local children the opportunity to create art and explore the natural world. The Stark Museum of Art’s camp offerings are part of a larger effort to connect with local families. Over the past three years, the museum has introduced quarterly Family Days, youth art classes, a Family Guide, and Education Areas within the galleries to create a family-friendly learning environment that serves visitors of all ages.”

Having received the regional award, the Stark Museum and Shangri La will now be nominated for the American Association of Museum’s National Education Committee Award for Excellence in Programming in 2012.

The Stark Museum of Art and Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center are expanding their award-winning collaboration by developing new Art and Nature EcoRanger Camps for students grades 3-9. “Baskets, Bowls and Botany,” “The Art of Animals,” and “Plants in Perspective” will be offered in summer 2012. Information and applications for the new camps will be posted on the websites of both the Stark Museum of Art and Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center in April 2012.

The regional award was presented at the awards ceremony at the conference of the Mountain Plains Museum Association, Oct. 20 in Helena, Mont. Elena Ivanova, Chief Educator, Stark Museum, accepted the award on behalf of the Museum and Shangri La. Dr. Ivanova gave a presentation at the conference, “How Cool Is Your Museum? Meeting the Change of Generation Z.”

Located at 712 Green Avenue in Orange, Texas, the Stark Museum of Art is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free for all ages. Group tours are available by appointment. For more information call 409-886-ARTS (2787) or visit www.starkmuseum.org. The Museum will close early, at 2 p.m., on New Year’s Eve, Saturday, Dec. 31.

Located at 2111 West Park Avenue in Orange, Texas, Shangri La is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information call 409-670-9113 or visit www.shangrilagardens.org. Shangri La will close early, at 2 p.m., on New Year’s Eve, Saturday, Dec. 31.