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Discovery Space hires local fundraiser for capital campaign

After retiring from his role as director of Major Gifts for Penn State’s Eberly College of Science, Seldon Smith with take on the task of steering the fundraising campaign for Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania’s move from downtown State College to a larger facility on North Atherton Street.
After retiring from his role as director of Major Gifts for Penn State’s Eberly College of Science, Seldon Smith with take on the task of steering the fundraising campaign for Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania’s move from downtown State College to a larger facility on North Atherton Street. psheehan@centredaily.com

Ask anyone who has moved into a bigger home, and they will tell you it’s important to make sure your finances are in order.

It’s even more important when what you are moving isn’t just a house — it’s a museum.

Making sure that Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania has its fundraising in order for its move to a larger space will be the job of Selden Smith.

On Monday, the Centre County children’s science museum announced that it was bringing on Smith to steer the fundraising campaign for the move from downtown State College to newer, larger digs on North Atherton Street.

Smith isn’t new to fundraising or Discovery Space. He comes to the museum after years as the director of Major Gifts for Penn State’s Eberly College of Science, and he has volunteered with Discovery Space since it opened in 2011, according to the museum.

“I’ve been really impressed by its success in making science fun for kids and its ability to attract excellent volunteers and staff, and grow its membership. It’s a real community asset that deserves all of our support,” said Smith in a statement.

The museum is a popular location for kids to explore things like dinosaurs, architecture and chemistry in new and fun ways. In April, Executive Director Michele Crowl said the new location will make it easier to do that, opening the facility to more kids and families with additional opportunities for summer camps, birthday parties and field trips.

Smith built on that, saying, “Discovery Space meets a local and a national need.”

“A community our size just isn’t complete without a science museum,” he said. “It’s one of the things that makes this a great place to live and to raise kids. And in the bigger picture, it’s essential for the next generation to be scientifically literate if the U.S. is going to be a major player on the world stage.”

Smith will be shifting his focus from college-level learners to elementary and younger learners without a pause. He is set to leave Eberly when he retires June 30 and immediately take on the work at Discovery Space. He is already behind some of the museum’s critical fundraising efforts, like a program where donors can adopt elements and a math-based fundraising run called the Fibonacci 4K.

“He’s been giving us creative ideas and invaluable advice for years,” Crowl said.

The downtown location is set to close its doors Aug. 25 and re-open at the new site in September.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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