02 May 2022 // News

JRA and ACM Announce 2022 InterActivity Small Museum Financial Aid Recipients

For the first time since 2019, hundreds of children’s museums professionals will gather in-person for the Association of Children’s Museums’ (ACM) 2022 InterActivity Conference. From May 14-16 at The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum, attendees will enjoy informative sessions, engaging study tours, a vibrant vendor marketplace and multiple networking receptions.

The theme of this year’s InterActivity conference is “PLAY the Long Game.” After three years of uncertainty, instability and loss, the time has come for children’s museums to re-engage in comprehensive strategic planning and build back better. Through the conference,  ACM hopes to make museums better positioned to “adapt to today’s current dynamics, while at the same time preparing for the future in order to remain viable and relevant for generations to come.”

For the 14th year in a row, the ACM Small Museums Financial Aid Program, founded and sponsored by JRA, is offering complimentary InterActivity registrations to five fearless leaders, each of them shaping museums that earn less than $500,000 annually.

“We are so excited after two years of greeting these recipients on screen to finally be meeting them in-person,” said Shawn McCoy, JRA Executive Vice President and ACM Education Committee Member. “These leaders have not only shown incredible resilience, but their institutions have served as sources of comfort and community through the darkest moments. ACM’s theme of PLAY the Long Game will help them rebound, rebuild and reconnect, and I can’t wait to hear what they learn from their experience.”

Congratulations to this year’s recipients, and we can’t wait to meet you in St. Louis.

ACM Interactivity Scholarship JRAAmber McCammon volunteered with the Virgin Islands Children’s Museum (VICM) since its inception and joined the VICM team as Programs Director and Curator in 2018. She helped to establish the first children’s museum in the territory and has seen the museum through three builds in as many years and multiple temporary closures. As a long-time member of the Virgin Islands community, Amber has been involved in numerous initiatives that promote environmental stewardship and education. Her background as an artist, marine scientist, educator for K through undergraduate and mother have shaped her commitment to establishing the VICM as a hub of science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STREAM) based hands-on learning in the Caribbean. Her leadership and strategic direction promote equity, diversity and inclusion while highlighting local environments, the regional ecological community and celebrating Caribbean culture.

ACM Interactivity Scholarship JRASamantha Plocica is the Executive Director of Zing Zumm, Children’s Museum of Jacksonville, NC. Samantha grew up in Eastern North Carolina as the daughter of a (now retired) United States Marine and after years away, she has once again made Jacksonville her home. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science from Appalachian State University in Public History/Museum Studies and a Master’s in Business Administration from American Military University. She has worked in the nonprofit sector on and off for many years including Gear Up at Appalachian State and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. She has been with Zing Zumm as the Executive Director for 3 years, and prior to that served on the Board for 3 years. In these roles, she has enjoyed watching and helping the museum grow into a wonderful place for the Jacksonville, North Carolina community.

Erin Ray ACM ScholarshipErin Ray is the Assistant Museum Manager at the Main Street Children’s Museum, a children’s museum inspired by the artwork of Vernon Grant located in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Within this wonderful setting, imagination and curiosity merge into creative play! Nursery rhymes such as Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater and Simple Simon have been transformed into life-size, three-dimensional play and learning spaces for young children from birth to six. In her role, Samantha oversees visitor services, guest evaluation, and daily operations. Erin has worked at the Main Street Children’s Museum for three years, first as an educator before moving into her management role last year. Erin is most looking forward to meeting other museum professionals and bringing back new ideas to her team.

Samantha Twohig InteractivitySamantha Twohig joined the Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac team in January of 2022, serving in the newly created role of Family and Community Services Senior Manager. Sam has over 20 years of experience in developing and delivery of programs that support the healthy development of children of this community where she was born and raised.  She has built strong relationships with community partners and is eager to build upon them to serve CMFDL’s children and families.  Samantha has been a member of the museum since 2011 and served on the Board of Directors from 2018 to 2021. In 2019, she was invited to attend Interactivity in Denver and was amazed by the positive energy she witnessed. She is grateful for the scholarship opportunity and is eager to experience Interactivity from the perspective of her new role.

Sharon Vegh Williams InteractivitySharon Vegh Williams, PhD, is Founder and Executive Director of the North Country Children’s Museum in Potsdam, NY. She has worked in children’s museums and schools for 30 years. She started at the Boston Children’s Museum as an Interpreter, Floor Manager and other roles. She went on to get her Master’s degree in Education & Creative Arts at Lesley University. For over a decade, she worked as a classroom teacher in preschools and elementary schools in Washington DC, Boston and on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. In 2010, she completed her doctorate in multicultural education at the University of Rochester. She taught museum studies courses at St. Lawrence University, and her writing has been published in Hand-to-Hand, the Journal of American Indian Education and Teacher Education Quarterly. Her book Native Cultural Competency in Mainstream Schooling was published by Palgrave Macmillan. Sharon is on the Advisory Committee for ACM’s journal Hand-to-Hand.