Duncan Heritage Center lives up to Great Expectations

For the eighth consecutive year, the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan has been named a Great Expectations Model School.

Facility educators attended the state conference recently to accept the award for the 2013-14 academic year.

The Heritage Center is the only nonprofit to be certified as a Model School.

Six staff members attended the awards ceremony at the University of Central Oklahoma's Nigh University Center in Edmond: Executive Director Stacy Cramer Moore, Education Coordinator Leah Mulkey and educators Cindy Parks, Philonda Heilaman, Beverly Scott and Shari Johnson.

"Many people don't know that we host educational programming," Moore said.

Mulkey spends months working on programs for each session at the museum. There are five sessions yearly covering everything from Native American history to Oklahoma's wildest historical true tales to the land runs and lotteries. Teachers who participate have come to realize registering their classrooms' field trips in advance ensures they will be able to attend.

In 2013, nearly 7,000 children visited through classroom field trip programs. That number has grown each year over the past five years. As a nonprofit learning facility, donations support the education programs, making it possible for students in Title 1based schools to attend at no cost.

"Your donation dollars go right back into that program supporting free admission for those students and transportation assistance for the school districts," Moore said.

Because the Heritage Center is a 501(c)3, donations are tax deductible.

The Heritage Center also participated in Halliburton's Giving Choices Fair, which allows nonprofit organizations from throughout Oklahoma to visit each of its Duncan sites and talk with its employees,

"Several of the employees, who have lived in Duncan most of their lives, said they had never visited our facility," said Toni Hopper, the center's public relations and marketing coordinator.

"Others knew of the museum because their children had attended a field trip here, but what they didn't realize was the donation dollars keep our education programs operating for area schools at no cost. When they heard that information, they were impressed and it got them to thinking about investing in the education programs we offer. It's important that people in our own commumty know what a valuable facility we have. Halliburton brings visitors from around the world to our museum. Many have never seen a cowboy in person. Getting to experience these things that many of us take for granted is another educational outreach in keeping the Chisholm Trail history alive."

Several Haliburton employees also comute in from Oklahoma City and connecting with them during the non-profit fair was another bonus.

"Getting those people who work here, but don't live here, to invest in our community is necessary," Moore said.