Discovery Park of America Presents Awards at Gala and Fundraiser on March 5, 2022

The Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Discovery Awards Gala recognized individuals for their contributions in inspiring children and adults to see beyond.

March 8, 2022 – Guests arriving here Saturday evening, March 5 for our Robert E. and Jenny D. Discovery Awards Gala weren’t the only ones dressed up for the occasion. The iconic cave bear that, thanks to countless selfies taken and posted by guests has become Discovery Park’s de facto mascot, could be found next to the red carpet in a bow tie and formal hat created just for the special occasion. Discovery Park honored four individuals who bring enlightenment, awareness and education to those whose lives they’ve touched.

The inaugural gala and fundraiser was attended by a sold-out crowd of 350 people from around the region who joined Discovery Park in celebrating the winners, all of whom have deep roots in West Tennessee. Many in attendance had come to witness their friends and family members receiving the award and were visiting Discovery Park for the first time. The 2022 Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Discovery Awards Gala winners were:

  • Anita Kay Archer
  • LtGen John “Glad” Castellaw USMC (Ret)
  • Dr. Ron Kirkland
  • Jerry Reese

Live music was one of the highlights of the evening. At the cocktail party, guests enjoyed music provided by Terry Mike Jeffery. During dinner, background music was provided The Art Edmaiston 4tet.

Master of Ceremonies was Jennifer Horbelt, co-ancher of WPSD Local 6 News.

LtGen John “Glad” Castellaw, USMC (Ret), founder and CEO of Farmspace Systems, summed up the spirit of the evening perfectly by sharing the inspiration he witnessed firsthand when visiting Discovery Park. He said, “I saw a young girl coming down the escalator. As she came down, she saw the dinosaur and the other exhibits for the first time, and as I looked into her bright, shining, excited eyes, I saw that inspiration burning brightly. Rest in peace Robert Kirkland, your dream has come true.”

During the evening, Discovery Park CEO Scott Williams introduced a new video about the museum and heritage park titled, “A Day in the Life of Discovery Park” and shared the 2021 Impact Report. Both can be viewed here.

During the “Fund-a-Need” segment, gifts were raised for the Kirkland Scholarship Fund that provides free admission for students from all K-12 schools with 50% of the students qualifying for free or reduced lunches.

Attendees can view and download their photos from the evening on our Flickr page.