Photography by Sarah Oden
The Museum of Discovery has inspired the FUN of learning for nearly a century. As the oldest museum in the state, its legacy is steadfast – enriching the lives + minds of youth in Arkansas. Programming has evolved to complement the curriculum of schools throughout the state – introducing students to science, technology, engineering, arts and math through dynamic, interactive experiences. Each year, Spark! celebrates the museum’s continued mission fulfillment work and generates critical support of the institution’s commitment to fostering a vision for a future filled with career opportunities that a STEM education provides. Next month, the luncheon will welcome – with limited capacity – guests to the museum. A virtual evening event will feature science demonstrations and related festivities.
As a member of the Museum of Discovery Board of Directors and a past Spark! Star honoree, Barbara Sugg remains an ardent advocate for the Girls in STEM initiative. Like many Arkansas families, Barbara was introduced to the Museum of Discovery when her children were young. “We seized every opportunity to enjoy fun, hands-on learning activities. We loved science museums and the Museum of Discovery exhibits that encourage creative thinking, problem solving, imagination and just pure fun.” Museum of Discovery CEO Kelley Bass reiterates the educational value of the programs that the museum provides, “STEM-focused companies understand a child has to develop an interest in science and math by middle school. If you wait until high school it’s too late. We help young Arkansans develop a clear ‘line of sight’ between the study of STEM and rewarding, engaging careers. We are glad so many industry leaders understand how important that is and therefore choose to support the Museum of Discovery.”
Barbara believes in the power of technology and recognizes the importance of STEM education. As an undergraduate studying computer science at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Barbara remembers that she was unsure about the possibilities of a career in information technology. “I could not have chosen a better professional path for myself.” She has enjoyed a tenure of more than two decades at Southwest Power Pool. “Working in technology has provided an endless supply of challenges and phenomenal job security.” As Southwest Power Pool President & CEO, Barbara’s leadership is invaluable to 18 million residents in the Southwest Power Pool service area. She has realized an equally gratifying aspect is empowering individuals with the tools and resources to succeed; it’s reflected in her business + civic philosophy. “One of the most rewarding aspects is helping others achieve their goals, to accomplish things they never thought possible. This is perhaps more personally satisfying than accomplishing those goals myself.”
Her commitment to the Girls in STEM Program at the Museum of Discovery illustrates her earnest perspective to creating meaningful opportunities for the next generation of women. “I can’t think of an industry today that is not reliant on technology. The Girls in STEM Program inspires and equips students to pursue anything they desire, with the confidence to follow their dreams – built on a solid foundation. It provides them with the skills to solve problems we know about today and the challenges we’ll face tomorrow.”