Sternberg education director gets creative in funding summer camps

HAYS, Kan. -- The summer science camps started by David Levering three years ago have been a success, with more students each summer. Many of those students seek financial aid.

Levering, education director at Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum of Natural History, wants to avoid prospective students not receiving financial aid to lack of funds, so he is reaching out for donors through a crowdfund page. He started the page Dec. 26, 2016, and contributions will be accepted for another six weeks. Levering hopes to raise $26,000 -- $13,000 for financial aid scholarships and $13,000 for equipment needs.

"I need to increase the amount of aid available to give away, otherwise there's going to be a lot more disappointed students out there," Levering said. "We've had increased requests for financial aid every year."

Levering raised money through a crowdfund page when he first started the summer camps, which will be in their fourth year in 2017. He raised funds for basic equipment, and many of the contributors from that crowdfund campaign have become regular camp benefactors.

"As the camps program gets bigger, we need to increase the amount of funds," Levering said. "Most of these funds have come from repeat donors. I'm trying to increase the number of return donors as well as a single big boost this year."

The equipment upgrades have a purpose, too. Levering wants to teach the students how to use the equipment. The video and photos shot in the field will then be free to educators as classroom activities.

"My hope is to use the video and photos from the field programs to create classroom lessons that teachers can download from the museum's website for free," Levering said.

Following is the crowdfund link:

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