TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey State Museum is pleased to announce that longtime volunteer Wayne Callahan was among the honorees at the 2022 Governor’s Jefferson Awards. Mr. Callahan was honored in the “Service Through STEM” category for his volunteer work with the New Jersey State Museum Natural History Bureau. He has been an amateur paleontologist for more than fifty years and has consistently volunteered his time at the Museum since 1995. Besides collecting fossils and cataloguing collections, he inspires the public with presentations about paleontology, presenting STEM concepts since before it became a formal term.
The Jefferson Award is a national volunteer recognition award established in 1972 by the American Institute for Public Service (now Multiplying Good) in cooperation with the U.S. Senate and the White House. In New Jersey the Jefferson Award is administered by the New Jersey Governor’s Office of Volunteerism in partnership with the New Jersey Governor’s Advisory Council on Volunteerism and Community Service and NJ Advance Media. The Service Through STEM category honors the application of science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics (STEM) skills and knowledge to develop solutions to problems at the individual, home, school, community, or global level.
Many practitioners of science, technology and engineering trace their first interests to seeing paleontology at a museum, and Wayne Callahan’s volunteer work at the New Jersey State Museum has had far-reaching impacts. Besides bringing the excitement of STEM topics to learners of all ages, Mr. Callahan has also been an example of the citizen scientist, the person who pursued another occupation, but has contributed to another field of scholarly endeavor, expecting only the personal satisfaction of work well done and the advancement of knowledge.
Wayne Callahan has frequently noted his inspiration from the late Montclair State University paleontology Professor Robert Ramsdell (who also volunteered at the New Jersey State Museum). Mr. Callahan, who had always been interested in paleontology, took a number of courses from Professor Ramsdell, earning a Master’s degree in Geosciences in addition to his Engineering degree. Like a number of Dr. Ramsdell’s other students who have contributed individually and collectively to the sciences throughout their lives, Mr. Callahan’s service to the New Jersey State Museum is especially notable, as it directly inspires future generations of young scientists.
Prior to his retirement, Mr. Callahan’s work with the Museum included table demonstrations on paleontology at the long-running “Super Science Weekend” event for many years. Since retirement, Mr. Callahan has volunteered at the Museum at least one day per week since 2008, meeting visitors in the public laboratory and delivering formal and informal presentations which include STEM concepts. Additionally, he completed study of a skeleton of a fossil crocodile and then prepared the skeleton for inclusion in the Museum’s long-term “Written in the Rocks” exhibition which incorporates STEM concepts.
Mr. Callahan has shown countless people of all ages what a dedicated citizen scientist can accomplish and the importance of science in all our lives. The New Jersey State Museum is grateful to Mr. Callahan for his volunteerism. His work to advance STEM concepts for all who visit the Museum is to be commended and publicly recognized.
About the New Jersey State Museum
Located at 205 West State Street in Trenton, the New Jersey State Museum encompasses three buildings including a state-of-the-art Planetarium and holds over 2 million artifacts in its collections in Archaeology/Ethnography, Cultural History, Fine Art and Natural History. The New Jersey State Museum is a center for the exploration of science, history and the arts. We preserve and share stories that inspire curiosity and creativity for the enrichment of our communities. The Museum is open Tuesday - Sunday, 9:00 am to 4:45 pm. For additional information, visit www.statemuseum.nj.gov, like the Museum’s Facebook page (@NJStateMuseum), follow us on Twitter (njstatemuseum), or Instagram (nj_statemuseum).
About the New Jersey State Museum Foundation
The New Jersey State Museum Foundation was founded in 1968 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) to support the Museum's collections, exhibitions and programs through fundraising, volunteerism, advocacy and marketing. The New Jersey State Museum Foundation received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. The Foundation has received an Action Grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. In recent years, the Foundation has received generous support from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, PNC Foundation, NJM Insurance Group, and Princeton Area Community Foundation. The Foundation also operates the Museum membership program, as well as the Museum Shop which sells merchandise related to the Museum's exhibitions and collections, and New Jersey history and culture. Proceeds support the New Jersey State Museum's collections, exhibitions and programs.