Press Release: Cornerstone Box Discovered During Demolition of Historic Dresden First United Methodist Church Opened at Discovery Park of America

Cornerstone Box Discovered During Demolition of Historic Dresden First United Methodist Church Opened at Discovery Park of America

Union City, Tenn.—Church members from Dresden First United Methodist Church in Dresden, Tenn., were present at Discovery Park of America on Wed., Feb. 2 for the opening of a copper cornerstone box that was discovered during demolition of the church building. The church had been damaged beyond repair by tornadoes this past December. The cornerstone box was found bricked inside a part of the church that was dedicated in 1924 and was previously unknown to many of today’s church members.

Jennifer Wildes, the museum’s senior director of collections and exhibits, managed the opening of the box assisted by Jade Walsh and Jamie Thomson. Each artifact found inside was thoroughly examined and cataloged. In the coming weeks, the items will be put on temporary display at Discovery Park.

“Of all the artifacts we discovered, the most meaningful for me was a typed letter from the church’s pastor at the time, S. L. Jewell,” said Wildes. It included a short history of the church, and he noted that the letter had been ‘hastily written for information of someone who may in coming years look in the box.’”

The majority of the items were well preserved with the most unexpected item being an ear of corn. A letter wrapped around the ear noted it was of the Little Willice variety and was placed in the box by E. E. Ellis, the Weakley County agriculture agent. Ellis wrote, “May God’s richest blessings be with each farmer and those that depend on farmers as long as good old Weakley County continues to be populated with people.”

Other items pulled from the box included:

  • Methodist hymnals and songbooks
  • Copies of the Dresden Enterprise newspaper from 1924
  • Copies of Methodist newspapers
  • Tube containing a document from the Boy Scouts of America
  • Correspondence relating to the building of the church
  • A 1920 photograph of a young church member, Norma Leone Lewis, discovered inside a hymnal
  • Official church rolls for 1923-1924

“To say we were overwhelmed with joy in discovering this cornerstone box would be an understatement to say the least,” said Jamie Kemp, chairman of the trustees of the church. “Watching the staff of Discovery Park as they uncovered and preserved these precious memories gave me great joy.”

Discovery Park has uploaded photos of many of the items to a blog on their website, DiscoveryParkof America.com.

Church leaders are in the process of planning where and when their new church building will be built. Contributions to the Dresden First United Methodist Church rebuilding effort may be made online at GoFundMe.com, or checks may be mailed to:

Bldg & Renovation Fund
Dresden First United Methodist Church
411 Morrow St.
Dresden, TN 38225

Media: Link to B-roll

Photo Caption: Discovery Park of America exhibits team opening the cornerstone box. 

Photo Caption: Current members of Dresden First United Methodist, Beverly Oliver and Jamie Kemp, discussing the items discovered inside the cornerstone box with Jamie Thomson (far right), member of the Discovery Park exhibits team. 

Photo Caption: Items discovered inside the cornerstone box. 

Photo Caption: Letter from the church’s pastor at the time, S.L. Jewell. 

Press Release: Discovery Park of America to Celebrate National Ag Day on March 22, 2022 with Free Admission for Ag Student Groups

Discovery Park of America to Celebrate National Ag Day on March 22, 2022 with Free Admission for Ag Student Groups

Union City, Tenn.—Discovery Park of America will celebrate National Ag Day at the museum and heritage park on Tues., March 22, 2022.

National Ag Day is held by The Agriculture Council of America (ACA), an organization uniquely composed of leaders in the agriculture, food and fiber communities dedicated to increasing the public awareness of agriculture’s vital role in our society. The Agriculture Council of America and the National Ag Day program was begun in 1973.

Discovery Park recently opened a permanent exhibit, “AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival” in the museum’s Simmons Bank Ag Center.

On March 22, Ag-related businesses and organizations will have booths with information and hands-on activities focused on innovation in how food, fuel and fiber products are produced, the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products around the world and the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy. There will also be special emphasis placed on career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.

Other content that day will include a groundbreaking for the park’s new greenhouses and Farm Credit Mid-America Education Pavilion at 11 a.m. and activities in the Simmons Bank Ag Center and on the Nutrien Ag Solutions Mainstage. Also unveiled will be a new guided pollinator tour.

Ag educators who would like to bring a group of students and companies and organizations who would like to participate should apply at DiscoveryParkofAmerica.com/Event/Agday.

For more information about National Ag Day at Discovery Park, contact Zach Rea at zrea@discoveryparkofamerica.com.

Photo Caption: Farm Credit Mid-America shared more about the business of agriculture with a group from the Paris chapter of Future Farmers of America.

Photo caption: Carol Reed, executive director with the Tennessee Corn Promotion Council discusses innovation in agriculture with a group of students at a previous Ag Day at Discovery Park.

Press Release: Farm Credit Mid-America Kicks Off Discovery Park of America’s Fundraising Campaign for Greenhouse and Education Pavilion with Major Gift

Farm Credit Mid-America Kicks Off Discovery Park of America’s Fundraising Campaign for Greenhouse and Education Pavilion with Major Gift

Union City, Tenn.Discovery Park of America announced today a new partnership with Farm Credit Mid-America that kicks off a new phase in the museum and heritage park’s dedication to educating children and adults on innovation in agriculture. The Farm Credit Mid-America Education Pavilion will be located between Discovery Park’s vineyard and “AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival,” an exhibit that opened in early 2021.

Farm Credit Mid-America is a financial services cooperative that has served the credit needs of farmers and rural residents across Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee for over a century providing loans for real estate, operating, equipment, housing and related services such as crop insurance and vehicle, equipment and building leases.

“One of the most impactful ways our association can help secure the future of rural communities and agriculture is through educational initiatives that deliver value for people,” said Andrew Melton, regional vice president of agricultural lending at Farm Credit Mid-America. “This partnership with Discovery Park of America will provide an interactive educational experience to a variety of visitors—many of whom have no background in agriculture. We’re excited to partner with them in their mission of inspiring children and adults to ‘See Beyond.’”

The public is invited to a ground-breaking ceremony for the greenhouse that will take place on Tues., March 22, 2022 at 11 a.m. during the park’s National Ag Day celebration.

Discovery Park’s education department and others will be utilizing The Farm Credit Mid-America Education Pavilion to spotlight topics relating to the business of agriculture along with growing cycles, garden design, soil health and other topics relating to the basics of plant science. The area will also feature two greenhouses. One greenhouse will provide an opportunity for guests to see members of the Discovery Park grounds team working with plants that will be used to enhance the park’s 40-acres of landscaping. An additional greenhouse will be designated for children and adults for educational-related programs and hands-on experiences.

“The beauty of the grounds was very important to Discovery Park founder Robert Kirkland, and for many years, we talked about all the good things we could do with our own greenhouse,” said John Watkins, the director of grounds for Discovery Park. “Being able to have an entire area dedicated to growing plants and educating our guests on plant science aligns perfectly with our mission.”

Other organizations and individuals are also encouraged to give to support the building of the greenhouses. Large gifts have been made or are committed by leading agri-tech company Green Plains, Inc., Betty and John Tanner, Michelle and Al Creswell and Diana Frankum.

Other organizations and individuals are also encouraged to give a gift to support the building of the greenhouses, and donations may be made in memory or honor of a friend or loved one. Those who give a gift of $100 or will be included on the sponsorship wall as a “Green Thumb” supporter. Those interested in supporting Discovery Park’s greenhouse project can make a gift on Discovery Park’s website or by contacting Mary Nita Bondurant at mbondurant@discoveryparkofamerica.com.

Photo caption: Artist rendering of the Farm Credit Mid-America Greenhouse and Education Pavillion that will open at Discovery Park of America later in 2022. 

Discovery Park to Open Hidden Cornerstone Box from Historic Dresden Church 2022

Discovery Park to Open Hidden Cornerstone Box from Historic Dresden Church

Jan. 12, 2022 – Dresden First United Methodist Church in Dresden, Tenn. discovered a copper cornerstone box during the recent demolition of their church building. Church leaders have asked the Discovery Park team to help open and conserve the contents of the historic box.

The building was damaged beyond repair in December 2021, during one of the worst outbreaks of tornadoes ever recorded in the United States. The cornerstone box was found bricked inside a part of the church that was dedicated in 1923 and was previously unknown to many of today’s church members. Once discovered, demolition halted as those on hand began work to carefully extract the box from the cornerstone of the building.

Wayne McCreight, a church trustee, contacted Discovery Park to ask for help safely extracting the contents of this gripping find.

Jennifer Wildes, the museum’s senior director of collections and exhibits, will manage opening the box in the next few weeks and will be prepared to conserve what, if anything, remains inside after being hidden away nearly 100 years. Photos of any items found will be posted on Discovery Park’s Facebook page and loaned by the church for display at Discovery Park for a short time.

A clipping from the Dresden Enterprise, the town’s newspaper, noted that when the church was originally dedicated, a crowd gathered on a Saturday afternoon to watch the laying of the cornerstone. According to the clipping, the box that was placed there at the time contained a complete roll of the church membership, a full history of the church, copies of the church newspaper, copies of the Dresden Enterprise and copies of hymnals.

“If we find artifacts that are damp and fragile, it will require delicate care to preserve them intact before they can be thoroughly examined and cataloged,” said Wildes. “Whatever we find, we’ll make certain these items left by church members from the past are preserved as a reminder of the church’s important history.”

Church leaders are in the process of planning where and when their new church building will be built. Contributions to the Dresden First United Methodist Church rebuilding effort may be made online at GoFundMe.com, or checks may be mailed to:

Bldg & Renovation Fund
Dresden First United Methodist Church
411 Morrow St.
Dresden, TN 38225

Press Release: Cornerstone Box Discovered During Demolition of Historic Dresden First United Methodist Church to be Opened at Discovery Park of America

Cornerstone Box Discovered During Demolition of Historic Dresden First United Methodist Church to be Opened at Discovery Park of America

Union City, Tenn.— Church leaders from Dresden First United Methodist Church in Dresden, Tenn., are working with artifact experts from Discovery Park of America, a museum and heritage park in nearby Union City, Tenn., to open and conserve contents of a copper cornerstone box that was discovered during demolition of the church building.

The building was damaged beyond repair in December 2021, during one of the worst outbreaks of tornadoes ever recorded in the United States. The cornerstone box was found bricked inside a part of the church that was dedicated in 1923 and was previously unknown to many of today’s church members. Once discovered, demolition halted as those on hand began work to carefully extract the box from the cornerstone of the building.

Wayne McCreight, a church trustee, contacted Discovery Park to ask for help safely extracting the contents of the box.

Jennifer Wildes, the museum’s senior director of collections and exhibits, will manage opening the box in the next few weeks and will be prepared to conserve what, if anything, remains inside after being hidden away nearly 100 years. Photos of any items found will be posted on Discovery Park’s Facebook page and loaned by the church for display at Discovery Park for a short time.

A clipping from the Dresden Enterprise, the town’s newspaper, noted that when the church was originally dedicated, a crowd gathered on a Saturday afternoon to watch the laying of the cornerstone. According to the clipping, the box that was placed there at the time contained a complete roll of the church membership, a full history of the church, copies of the church newspaper, copies of the Dresden Enterprise and copies of hymnals.

“If we find artifacts that are damp and fragile, it will require delicate care to preserve them intact before they can be thoroughly examined and cataloged,” said Wildes. “Whatever we find, we’ll make certain these items left by church members from the past are preserved as a reminder of the church’s important history.”

Dresden, the county seat of Weakley County, Tenn., was organized in 1825 and incorporated in 1827. When the town was laid out and lots made available for purchase, land was designated for a house of worship. That lot was purchased on Feb. 4, 1833, and it was there the church was located in various buildings until the tornadoes of 2021.

Church leaders are in the process of planning where and when their new church building will be built. Contributions to the Dresden First United Methodist Church rebuilding effort may be made online at GoFundMe.com by searching “Dresden FUMC Rebuilding Effort,” or checks may be mailed to:

Bldg & Renovation Fund
Dresden First United Methodist Church
411 Morrow St.
Dresden, TN 38225

 

Photo caption: The cornerstone box that was recovered from the historic Dresden First United Methodist Church.

Photo credit: Brody Kemp

Discovering Forever at Discovery Park of America 2021

Discovering Forever at Discovery Park of America

Dec. 21, 2021 – Our mission is to inspire children and adults to see beyond. Part of how we help guests to “see beyond” is by giving them new things to discover each day. Little did Christy Bondurant and Kevin Lyell know that they would discover their forever right here in Discovery Park’s gift shop.

Christy and Kevin were introduced to each other in 2020 by a church friend and were connected through Facebook. After messaging for a while, Kevin asked Christy out on a date. “I, being a bit old fashioned, told him that he would need to come meet me in my hometown for the first date and our first in-person meet up,” Christy said. She knew of the perfect place for them to meet and have their first date, Discovery Park of America.

Kevin was running late due to traffic, so Christy decided to explore the gift shop while waiting. As she was scanning a display in the gift shop, Kevin noticed her through the glass and they have been dating ever since.

This past Saturday, Dec. 18, Kevin brought Christy back to Discovery Park under the ruse of picking up a science themed Christmas gift for a family member. “He kept stalling and was not listening to my suggestions,” Christy said. After circling the shop a few times, Kevin got down on one knee on the other side of a shelf that was stocked with army men. “I was about to tell him how his niece did not care for army men, but he was down on one knee with the ring,” laughed Christy. He proposed at the same time and place he had first seen Christy, at 1 p.m. in the gift shop. “Of course I said yes,” Christy said.

We wish the future Mr. and Mrs. Lyell many years of happiness in their marriage that was first discovered here at Discovery Park.

Kevin Lyell proposed to Christy Bondurant in the gift shop at Discovery Park of America.

Tornado Relief Efforts 2021

Tornado Relief Efforts

Dec. 17, 2021 – Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the tornadoes that crossed 8 states on Dec. 11, 2021. For those looking for ways to assist in relief efforts, we have compiled a list of places to volunteer and donate.

Local Resources for Tornado Victims

Food, Clothing and Other Essential Items: 

Samburg Assembly of God
253 N Reelfoot Ave. Hornbeak, TN 38232

First Baptist Church
204 S Poplar St. Kenton, TN 38233

Shelter:

American Red Cross Shelter
First Baptist Church
204 S Poplar St. Kenton, TN 38233

Ways to Donate

Federal aid has been granted for those counties impacted by the tornado outbreak. TEMA will continue to update the December Severe Weather page with recovery recourses, volunteer information and how to donate. The Crisis Cleanup Line (800-451-1954) is active and accepting call from Tennesseans in the storm damaged counties who need assistance with cleaning up from the storms. For more information, visit December Severe Weather (tn.gov). Be sure to watch social media and contact local churches and organizations for other ways to volunteer or make donations.

Press Release: Discovery Park of America Announces Free Admission for Children in January and New Exhibits for 2022

Discovery Park of America Announces Free Admission for Children in January and New Exhibits for 2022

Union City, Tenn.— Thanks to a partnership with Magnolia Place Assisted Living, children 17 and younger will receive free admission to Discovery Park of America in January 2022.

Magnolia Place’s support is being made in memory of Bart White who was a long-time board member and board president of Magnolia Place. “Bart White was a true servant of our community and a good friend to us all,” said Cindy Cox, administrator of Magnolia Place. “This year, we see this as a way we can honor Bart while helping even more young people have an opportunity to visit Discovery Park.”

Discovery Park has developed a strong reputation for being a museum that is both educational and fun for young visitors. Tennessee Tourism’s recent award-winning Kid Reviewed campaign incorporated a wearable device called the Laugh Tracker. The device tracked laughter and heart rate to measure excitement of children at more than 30 Tennessee attractions including Discovery Park. The data was then paired with candid reviews to scientifically prove where kids have the most fun. Young people at Discovery Park experienced “75 average laughs and 162.3 average moments of excitement per hour.”

In 2022, there will be many opportunities for “moments of excitement” for children and adults at Discovery Park including three temporary exhibits. “The Fascinating World of Murray Hudson’s Globes and Maps” will shine a spotlight on one of the most unique collections of globes and maps in the world. Hudson is a former English professor, stockbroker and farmer from Dyersburg, Tenn., who owns the largest private collection of for-sale antiquarian maps, globes, books and prints in the world. On display will be early maps from the 16th century to the present, items of historic relevance and incredible globes that could pass for works of art. Those exploring the exhibit will also get to see rare globes that range from a two-and-a-half-foot wide diplomat’s globe from 1918 that focuses on political geography to one of the smaller curiosities in his collection, an 1840s boxed globe from Germany that shows Texas as an independent republic, just before it was annexed by the United States. This exhibit is sponsored by Conley and Conley Attorneys at Law.

“Southern Artist Showcase: Hattie Marshall-Duncan” will be at Discovery Park May 27 to Oct. 24, 2022. Self-taught sculptor, Hattie Marshall-Duncan of Jackson, Tenn., turns common household items and found objects that are often overlooked into distinguished masterpieces. Hattie’s work is reflective of her African American community and family. Recipient of the 2019 Tennessee Governor’s Arts Award, Marshall-Duncan’s art is displayed statewide in various galleries including Discovery Park’s partner in this exhibit, the West Tennessee Regional Art Center.

Making its Tennessee debut June 18, 2022 to Jan. 8, 2023, “Discover Steampunk: A Fantastical Hands-On Adventure” includes a series of immersive galleries featuring one-of-a-kind, hands-on interactive Steampunk sculptures. Steampunk typically combines the romanticism of the Victorian Era, steam-powered technology and science fiction. The exhibit, created by Imagine Exhibitions, utilizes the stories of seven 19th-century visionaries to explore the power of imagination and creative problem solving. Visitors will also discover the important intersections of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), art, history and reading.

The visionary authors featured in “Discover Steampunk: A Fantastical Hands-On Adventure” are: Mary Shelley, the English novelist who wrote the Gothic novel “Frankenstein;” Jules Verne, the French novelist, poet and playwright who wrote bestselling adventure novels including “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas,” and “Around the World in Eighty Days;” and H.G. Wells, the science fiction author who wrote “The Time Machine,” “War of the Worlds” and the “The Invisible Man” and who is often remembered today as the “father of science fiction.” Joining them are four influential Victorian-era inventors: Isaac Singer, who developed the sewing machine; Thomas Blanchard, who worked on automation and the first automobiles; George Eastman, who helped popularize photography; and Jan Matzeliger, the son of a Surinamese slave, whose inventions made decent footwear accessible to the masses.

The annual Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Discovery Awards Gala returns on Sat., March 5, 2022 and will once again recognize individuals whose work, like that of Discovery Park, brings enlightenment, inspiration and education to those whose lives they’ve touched. The 2022 honorees are Anita Kay Archer, LtGen John “Glad” Castellaw (Ret.), Dr. Ron Kirkland and Jerry Reese.

Among other events returning in 2022 is the Rhythm on the Rails Summer Concert Series on Friday evenings May 6 to June 22. This family-friendly festival will feature live performances at the Train Depot, food trucks and fishing at Discovery Park’s lake.

Discovery Park 2022 Events Calendar 

 

Children 17 and under receive admission 

January 2022

Temporary Exhibit: “The Fascinating World of Murray Hudson’s Globes and Maps”

Dec. 2, 2021 to March 1, 2022

The Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Discovery Awards Gala 

March 5, 2022

Educational Greenhouse

Spring 2022

Military History and Armed Forces Symposium 

April 22 and 24, 2022

Rhythm on the Rails Summer Concert Series

Friday evenings in May and June 2022

Cardboard Boat Regatta

May 14, 2022

Temporary Exhibit: “Southern Artist Showcase: Hattie Marshall-Duncan”

May 27 to Oct. 24, 2022

Discovery Park Cruise-in

June 4, 2022

“Discover Steampunk: A Fantastical Hands-On Adventure”

June 18, 2022 to Jan. 8, 2023

Independence Day Celebration

July 2, 2022

Antique Tractor Show

August 5 and 6, 2022

David Crockett Birthday 

August 13, 2022

9/11 Stair Climb and First Responders Appreciation Day

September 10, 2022

Discovery Dash 5K/10K and Pediatric Day

September 17, 2022

Southern Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival

September 24 and 25, 2022

Pumpkin Village

October 2022

Let it Glow Light Show Drive-thru and Walk-thru

Nov. 11 to Dec. 30, 2022, closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

A complete calendar of events with details can be found at discoveryparkofamerica.com.

All events are subject to change.

Photo caption: “Discover Steampunk: A Fantastical Hands-On Adventure,” coming to Discovery Park of America June 18, 2022 to Jan. 8, 2023, focuses on creative problem solving using functional art sculptures modeled after famous historical figures.

Photo caption: A group of students from the Fulton County Middle School Academic Team and the Milan High School AP Human Geography class recently enjoyed a presentation from Murray Hudson about his collection of rare globes and maps. The exhibit will be on display at Discovery Park of America through March 1, 2022.

Press Release: Discovery Park of America Announces the First Bottles of Wine from Their Vineyard Now Available to Members

Discovery Park of America Announces the First Bottles of Wine from Their Vineyard Now Available to Members

Union City, Tenn.– Discovery Park of America has announced a limited number of bottles of the very first wines to be produced from their vineyard are now available in the gift shop at the museum and heritage park for members to purchase. The inaugural offering includes a red and a white option.

Each will be available for $24.95 for Discovery Park members only until Mon., Dec. 13, 2021. They will then be made available to the public.

Bottled by Crown Winery, LLC of Humboldt, Tenn., the wines are produced from grapes harvested from the Discovery Park Vineyard located on the 50-acre heritage park.

John Watkins, Discovery Park’s director of grounds, has been tending to the vineyard since the first grapes were grown in 2017. Harvesting the crop has become an annual task that many on the park’s team look forward to each season. In 2020, 850 lbs. of grapes were harvested and taken to Crown Winery for processing for this vintage.

Discovery Park’s vineyard is located next to the park’s Simmons Bank Ag Center along with small fields of wildflowers, cotton, corn and soybeans used to educate visitors about innovation in agriculture and the important role of pollinators.

“Seeing bottled wine made from grapes in our own vineyard for sale in our gift shop is something all of us at Discovery Park have dreamed of for several years,” said Watkins. “We’re glad they are now available so our visitors can take a bit of Discovery Park home to share with friends and family.”

Photo caption: Discovery Park wine will be available for sale at Discovery Park of America on Dec. 13, 2021.

Press Release: Discovery Park of America Announces 2022 Discovery Award Honorees

Discovery Park of America Announces 2022 Discovery Award Honorees

The Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Discovery Award recognizes individuals for their contributions to inspiring children and adults to see beyond.

For the most updated information on this event, go to the calendar listing.

Union City, Tenn.—Discovery Park of America has announced the honorees for The Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Discovery Awards Gala that will be held Saturday, March 5, 2022 at the museum and heritage park. The award recognizes individuals whose work, like that of Discovery Park, brings enlightenment, inspiration and education to those whose lives they’ve touched.

The gala and awards ceremony, emceed by Jennifer Horbelt, co-anchor of WPSD Local 6 News, will bring together thought leaders, policymakers, philanthropists and others to celebrate the honorees, all of whom have deep roots in West Tennessee. The 2022 Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Discovery Award honorees are:

  • Anita Kay Archer
  • Lt. Gen. John (Glad) Castellaw USMC (Ret.)
  • Dr. Ron Kirkland
  • Jerry Reese

Anita Kay Archer is from Jackson, Tenn., and is currently the vice president of business development at The Bank of Jackson. She has led the efforts of various nonprofits throughout her career. Archer is on the advisory board for West Tennessee Healthcare’s Kirkland Cancer Center, the Women’s Leadership Council Chair for United Way of West Tennessee and is involved in the development of West Tennessee Healthcare’s Hospice Home education project. A former educator, she has also served the United Methodist Church’s Memphis Conference in many capacities including Conference Lay Leader and delegate to quadrennial, Jurisdictional and General Conferences of the denomination. Anita is the wife of Robert N. Archer III, and together they have three adult children and five grandchildren.

LtGen John “Glad” Castellaw, USMC (Ret.) is from Crockett Mills, Tenn., and is the founder and CEO of Farmspace Systems, a provider of remote sensing services. As a Marine, he flew over two dozen different aircraft types, commanded multiple aviation units, served with the United Nations during the Siege of Sarajevo, commanded a U.S. joint force in a multi-national security and stability operation in East Timor, and was the chief of staff for the U.S. Central Command during the Iraq War. His last tours on active duty were in the Pentagon, where he oversaw both Marine ground and aviation programs. Castellaw travels widely advising on food, energy, and climate security and is currently leading a multidisciplinary team developing a virus screening capability for the Department of Homeland Security.

Dr. Ron Kirkland is from Union City, Tenn., and was a practicing physician for over 33 years. Ron is a past chairman of the board of The Jackson ClinicAspell Recovery Center, the American Medical Group Association, and the American Medical Group Foundation. Passionate about serving his community, Kirkland is currently the President of the Tennessee Medical Association, past president of the Jackson Rotary Club, and past president of the University of Tennessee National Alumni Association. He has served on the University of Tennessee Athletic Board, the Jackson-Madison County Chamber of Commerce Board and the Jackson Arts Council Board. Ron currently serves on the Board of Directors of Baptist Hospital Memphis. Kirkland was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army as a sergeant after serving a tour in Vietnam as a counterintelligence agent. He is married to the former Carol Ann Glasgow, and they have 4 children and 8 grandchildren.

Considered one of the most successful general managers in the National Football League, Jerry Reese is from Tiptonville, Tenn., and is a former football executive, player and coach. He was a member of the New York Giants for 23 years, serving as their general manager from 2007 to 2017 where he won two Super Bowls. Reese and his wife, Gwen, are co-founders of Team4Success, a nonprofit with a mission of empowering students of Lake County and surrounding counties in the West Tennessee/Mississippi Valley region. Their focus is on education and development of leadership skills among the young people of the region.

“One of the legacies of Robert and Jenny Kirkland is an organization with a mission of making certain children and adults have an opportunity to discover more of what the world has to offer,” says Scott Williams, president and CEO of Discovery Park. “Each of our impressive 2022 Discovery Award winners embody Discovery Park’s mission to inspire children and adults to see beyond.”

The names and bios of the 2022 honorees will be added to a kiosk at Discovery Park with those from previous years.

The Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Discovery Awards Gala will be held at Discovery Park of America, 830 Everett Blvd., Union City, Tenn., on Saturday, March 5, 2022 with cocktails at 6:30 p.m. and an awards dinner at 7:30 p.m. The gala will also feature a silent auction, entertainment by students from the University of Tennessee at Martin and more.

Entertainment for the cocktail party will be Terry Mike Jeffrey. Jeffrey is an Emmy-nominated singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who has performed all over the world. A unique entertainer singing musical styles from most genres all of his life, Terry Mike is especially known world-wide for his presentation of Elvis Presley’s music. In recent years he has performed the king of rock ‘n’ roll’s songs with symphony orchestras across the country, including those in Detroit, Jacksonville, Birmingham, Denver, St Louis and Knoxville. Jeffrey has also performed live with Jewel, The Chicks, Travis Tritt, Jerry Lee Lewis, Juice Newton, BJ Thomas, Ricky Skaggs, Leon Russell and many others. A popular performer in Tennessee, he has been featured in 5 concerts with the Nashville Symphony, and 17 concerts fronting the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. He also sings and performs shows regularly at the Badgett Playhouse Theater in Grand Rivers, KY.

Tickets and tables are available here.

Photo caption: Discovery Award Honoree Anita Kay Archer.

Photo caption: Discovery Award Honoree Lt. Gen. John “Glad” Castellaw (Ret.).

Photo caption: Discovery Award Honoree Ron Kirkland.

‘Photo caption: Discovery Award Honoree Jerry Reese.

Photo Caption: Terry Mike Jeffrey, Emmy-nominated singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, will preform at the cocktail party at the 2022 Discovery Awards Gala.

West Tennessee PBS and Discovery Park of America Partner to Spread Holiday Cheer Across the Region 2021

West Tennessee PBS and Discovery Park of America Partner to Spread Holiday Cheer Across the Region

Dec. 6, 2021 – Now you can get a taste of the magic of Discovery Park’s Christmas lights from your own home as West Tennessee PBS presents “Let It Glow.” The 30-minute special was filmed at the museum and heritage park’s popular light show and will air five times during the holiday season.

“The drive-thru light show has become a holiday tradition for many families around West Tennessee,” said Scott Williams, Discovery Park’s president and CEO.  “The team here has spent much of the year planning and then implementing the addition of our exciting, new Christmas lights walk-thru. We are so grateful our friends at West Tennessee PBS are as excited about it as we are and look forward to even more people getting to experience it.”

The special program includes segments filmed inside the new walk-thru. Also featured is the drive-thru that allows cars to slowly drive around the 50-acre heritage park as they experience more than a million twinkling lights synced to the beats of popular Christmas songs. Viewers will get a unique look at a Titan Missile, the outside of the 199-foot-tall Discovery Center, a settlement of log cabins and more, all decorated for the holidays.

“Discovery Park and West Tennessee PBS have been great partners since the museum first opened,” said Mike Peery, West Tennessee PBS’s General Manager and CEO. “We view this as a perfect way to wish all our viewers a Merry Christmas.”

The program was produced and edited by Miranda Barnes.

“Let it Glow” can be seen on West Tennessee PBS:

Tues., Dec. 14 at 8 p.m.

Fri., Dec. 17 at 9:30 p.m.

Sun., Dec. 19 at 6 p.m.

Thu., Dec. 23 at 9 p.m.

Sat., Dec. 25 at 9 p.m.

Discovery Park of America Opens ‘The Fascinating World of Murray Hudson’s Globes and Maps’ 2021

Discovery Park of America Opens “The Fascinating World of Murray Hudson’s Globes and Maps”

Dec. 3, 2021 – Now on display at Discovery Park of America is an exhibit that shines a spotlight on one of the most unique collections of globes and maps in the world. On Friday, several of the museum’s visitors got a one-of-a-kind tour of “The Fascinating World of Murray Hudson’s Globes and Maps” from Murray Hudson himself. Hudson was also getting a first look at the exhibit which just opened to the public.

Hudson is a former English professor, stockbroker and farmer originally from Dyersburg, Tenn., who owns the largest private collection of for-sale antiquarian maps, globes, books and prints in the world. The spark of inspiration for his collection came from visiting an antique map shop on High Street in London while taking a summer course at Oxford University in 1964. His collection today includes more than 17,000 maps and more than 700 globes of various ages, sizes and designs. Many can be found in his shop, Murray Hudson – Antique Maps, Globes, Books & Prints, in the former Halls, Tenn., Post Office at 109 Church Street, where he also sells vintage sheet music and antique posters.

“As I look around, this exhibit far exceeds what I ever dreamed it could be,” said Hudson. “My goal has always been to get these maps and globes into the hands of people who could enjoy and learn from them. Discovery Park has done just that,” he added.

In addition to individuals and families who got to meet and hear about the collection from Hudson, several school groups were there to hear his story.

“The Fascinating World of Murray Hudson’s Globes and Maps” is sponsored by Conley and Conley Attorneys at Law and will be on display in the museum’s ATA Traveling Exhibit Hall through March 1, 2022.

For more information about Discovery Park of America, visit www.discoveryparkofamerica.com.