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Columbia artist Susan Lenz creating ornaments for national display

Susan LenzColumbia fiber artist Susan Lenz has been selected to create South Carolina’s ornaments for the 2015 America Celebrates: Ornaments from Across the USA display at President’s Park (White House) in Washington, D.C. Lenz joins artists from each U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia in designing ornaments inspired by America’s national parks and their programs, paying tribute to the upcoming National Park Service Centennial in 2016. Lenz created double-sided ornaments using image transfers of South Carolina’s flora and fauna, historic monuments, recreational areas, and her favorite boardwalks at Congaree National Park. Each ornament is machine-quilted. The back of each ornament (pictured below) features the outline of the state along with the flag’s palmetto tree and crescent moon. Images include a box turtle, a summer tanager, the Carolina wren, several unique insects, and a spotted orb weaver spider. Susan Lenz, National Ornament, reversed The ornament display honors the holiday season and celebrates the National Christmas Tree Lighting, a national event presented by the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service. Lenz plans to attend the 93rd annual National Christmas Tree Lighting, taking place Thursday, December 3, 2015, at 5 p.m. “I am excited to be part of the America Celebrates display for many reasons,” says Lenz. “I’m passionate about conservation and environmental issues. I’ve been an artist-in-residence at Hot Springs National Park and have visited several other national parks. I have very fond memories of kayaking at Congaree National Park and simply adore walking the raised boardwalks there.” “Art can be an incredible way for people to connect with national parks, and we’re thrilled to carry on the time-honored tradition of debuting ornaments from all over the country,” said Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “We’re honored to have Susan Lenz represent South Carolina in this year’s America Celebrates display.” As one of America’s oldest holiday traditions, the National Christmas Tree Lighting began on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse in President’s Park. Since 1923, each succeeding president has carried on the tradition. In addition to the America Celebrates display, President’s Park hosts a variety of family-oriented holiday attractions, including nightly holiday performances, and model train display. For more information, visit www.thenationaltree.org and follow the National Christmas Tree on Twitter at @TheNationalTree. Join the conversation online using the hashtag #NCTL2015. Image above: Ornament examples About the National Park Service More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 408 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. The National Park Service has cared for the White House and its grounds since 1933. President’s Park, which includes the Ellipse and Lafayette Park, was officially included in the national park system in 1961. Visit us at www.nps.gov. About the National Park Foundation The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service.  Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards.  Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org

Columbia Museum of Art & Congaree National Park receive “America’s Best Idea” grant

The Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) and Congaree National Park received one of 39 America's "Best Idea" grants given by the National Park Foundation this year to recognize their innovative arts and science education program called LEAF (Linking Ecology and Art of the Floodplains). The $17,500 grant helps support LEAF, which connects science, art, and the ecological experience of the primeval forest at Congaree National Park to teach over 1,300 third-graders about landscapes, soils, and habitats. The National Parks Service announced the list of national parks across the country selected to receive the award. The grant program, inspired by Ken Burns' critically acclaimed documentary, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," builds partnerships between national parks and community, state, and other public organizations that engage diverse audiences in meaningful and relevant ways with national parks and inspires participants to become stewards of our National Park System. The award-winning program also received recognition on national television on Time Warner Cable's "It Ain't Rocket Science" show that aired in October. The show is part of the cable company's charitable initiative called "Connect a Million Minds" STEM campaign, which spotlighted the LEAF program as an innovative education program linking art and science: http://www.connectamillionminds.com/campaigns/itaintrocketscience/episode/26 "We thank the National Park Foundation for their support and are honored that the LEAF program received this national recognition," says Karen Brosius, CMA executive director. "Our museum is focused on art as a gateway to learning and creativity, and it has been a pleasure to partner with Congaree National Park to reach more than a thousand third-grade students with such a valuable and fun art and science experience." Beginning in 2007, the LEAF program has reached a total of over 4,000 students and over 200 teachers in Richland and Lexington Counties, which is the central region of South Carolina. This free, outdoor field trip is part of an ongoing initiative by the CMA to integrate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) education in school curricula. The STEAM movement recognizes the importance of connecting science with arts education, which is critical for 21st-century achievement and innovation. LEAF promotes arts education, science literacy, and environmental education through outdoor activities that connect to South Carolina visual art and science education standards. "Good artists make good scientists and good scientists make good artists because observation is key to both," says Congaree Education Coordinator David Shelley. The National Park Foundation is the official charity of the National Park System. Additional support for the grants comes from the Geological Society of America and the National Park Service Geologic Resource Division. For more information about the CMA's education programs, visit columbiamuseum.org/learn. Image: Congaree National Park Education Coordinator David Shelley leads third-graders in an exercise about soil weathering, erosion, and deposition. Via: Columbia Museum of Art