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NC Museum of Natural Sciences honored at White House

Posted May 8, 2014

— Museums and libraries are playing an important role in a country that is aiming to provide a top-flight education to its children, Michelle Obama said Thursday as she helped honor 10 institutions from across the U.S. for outstanding community service.

Among those receiving the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service was the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.

"Welcome to a little museum that we like to call the White House," the first lady said to open an East Room ceremony where she handed representatives of each institution a wooden frame that held their medal and a certificate.

Obama said the institutions' programs "help us expand our horizon and connect us to with the rest of the world."

She highlighted such offerings as summer expeditions to excavate dinosaur bones alongside professional paleontologists and opportunities to learn marine biology through the feeding and training of beluga whales.

"The work that you do in the summers and throughout the year, quite frankly, is filling a crucial role for our country as we strive to give our young people a world-class education," Obama said.

Emlyn Koster, director of the North Carolina museum, and 15-year-old Molly Paul, a sophomore at St. Mary's School in Raleigh, were on hand to receive the award from Obama.

"This is a milestone, for sure, for everyone who’s ever touched the development of the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh," Koster said. "It should encourage us, it should reinforce what we have all achieved together and send us to greater heights – and I'm sure that’s what it will do."

Paul has been going to the museum since age 5 and has volunteered there for the past three years as a junior curator.

"I've been so lucky to have the science museum be, really, a facilitator for me to grow as a leader and a young woman in (the field of science)," Paul said.

She said was honored to meet Obama and to be there for the first lady's remarks.

"She talked about how she was really proud there were young women in the field of science, and she hoped other young people would see me as an example," Paul said.

Also honored Thursday were:

  • Chicago Public Library in Chicago
  • The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York
  • Las Vegas-Clark County Library District in Nevada
  • Mid-Continent Public Library in Independence, Mo.
  • Mystic Aquarium, in Mystic, Conn.
  • Octavia Fellin Public Library in Gallup, N.M.
  • Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman, Okla.
  • Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass.

The annual awards are presented by the Institute of Museum and Library Service, the main source of federal support for the country's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.


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  • jackaroe123 May 9, 2014

    Isn't this museum close to where they do the big New Year's Eve drop... of an ACORN?!?!?!?1? It's a conspur'cy, I tell ya! Just a distraction from Benghazi! Michelle Obama is conspiring with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences to discourage kids from eating Cheetos! Give me Cheetos or give me death!

  • Paul M May 9, 2014

    Don't think I would call it an Honor.

  • Tony Snark May 8, 2014

    Betsy Bennett should be receiving that award, not koster. She built that museum into what it is today. He deserves no credit.

  • outhousecat May 8, 2014

    WRAL has to post a picture of Michelle every day or they haven't done their duty. Couldn't find a picture related to the story without her picture in it?

  • Super Hans May 8, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I mean, seriously... our own museum gets a national honor, and somehow that's a bad thing. Strange times we live in.

  • Tobaira Selkie May 8, 2014
    user avatar

    Great museum, and I'm proud to be a volunteer there.

  • Kristin Byrne May 8, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Your anti-Obama rhetoric is definitely tiresome. I don't like the guy. Didn't vote for him, but I don't allow myself to sound ignorant by bashing EVERYTHING that mentions the Obamas. Were you as critical when Laura Bush handed out awards? Last time I checked, no one voted for her, either.

  • Super Hans May 8, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Yes We Can, and Yes We Did!

  • Michael Lashley May 8, 2014
    user avatar

    Great news for a great museum!

  • LastSon1981 May 8, 2014

    Wow any chance to take a shoot. I've been going there since I was a kid and I'm glad it got honored. With Pat driving the car off the cliff (I made the mistake of voting for him. One I'll never make again.) We haven't been getting much positive Spotlight as a State.