Four years ago, I was hired as CEO of the Reach project with one goal: to build the Reach and fulfill a decade-long promise to the community. We downsized the project by 75 percent in 2012 and hired a local design/build team on Jan. 7, 2013. Construction began March 7, 2013, and we opened on July 4, 2014. Twelve months later, the Reach celebrated its first anniversary with 870 members, 35,461 visitors and 7,215 students.
At 18 months, between visitation, students, rentals, family events, cruise-line guests, community forums, outdoor theater performances and the tour program, we had introduced our stories to 50,747 people. The Reach was featured throughout the Northwest with 20 million “impressions” via stories in print and digital media.
As our second anniversary approaches, the Reach has become a beloved institution, one that is poised to stand the test of time. It’s a place where visitors will learn what makes this community so distinctive.
We asked you for priorities in assuring that longevity. Your answer was “lead with your strengths and do it in a cost-effective manner.” Looking ahead at the balance of 2016, there are six priorities:
Never miss a local story.
Education is the mission
▪ Expand partnerships to access and leverage new dollars for enriching and extending learning year-round.
▪ Broaden the “menu” of hands-on STEM learning opportunities for children and families and integrate experiences in arts and culture.
▪ Cover the spectrum PreK-16 and adult learners.
▪ Weave literacy activities into everything we offer.
▪ Target every fourth-grader to visit the Reach.
▪ Offer more “field experiences” to get kids outside.
▪ Expand the Reach mobile museum to more schools.
▪ Take teachers out in the field too.
▪ Visit surrounding parks, rivers, forests and plateaus to provide multiday, overnight adventure experiences for learners of all ages.
▪ Expand the Reach Tour Program for more in-depth learning.
▪ Be deliberate in assuring access to everyone regardless of their challenges.
Stay true to telling stories
▪ Focus on the themes that define us: Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, Tribes of the Plateau, Grand Coulee Dam, Columbia Basin Project and Irrigated Agriculture
▪ Hanford Site: Manhattan Project-Hanford Engineer Works, Cold War, cleanup and public access
▪ Hanford Reach National Monument
▪ Columbia River preservation
▪ Renewable energy: Hydropower, nuclear, solar, wind
Continue work on the Ice Age Floods trail
▪ After more than four years of collaboration with the National Park Service, help get the draft interpretive plan to the finish line
▪ Incorporate our Lake Lewis Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute into more tours, workshops and forums
▪ Introduce a new Coyote Canyon Dig/MCBONES Project Exhibit in December 2016
Manhattan Project National Historical Park
▪ Continue adding the “People Perspective” in the Manhattan Project Gallery
▪ Integrate Reach programs, exhibits and tours into park planning
▪ Expand PreK-12 Curricula on the Manhattan Project to Include the Broader WWII Context
▪ Coordinate with our museum partners to serve as gateways to the park
▪ Promote and publicize the regional and state-level work during WWII
▪ Include in our offerings information on Oak Ridge, Los Alamos and the Trinity Site
▪ Keep on writing Manhattan Project books
Building community, family
▪ Welcome all for special gatherings
▪ Provide exceptional customer service
▪ Help make events affordable and unique, including weddings via “Within Reach weddings”: one-of-a-kind moments under $1,000
Make museum sustainable
▪ Leverage all the space available inside and out
▪ Grow: Memberships, admissions, store sales, rentals
▪ Support the Reach Foundation’s efforts to increase the endowment, expand the Patrons Program, increase contributing memberships, and facilitate additional multiyear pledges
And finally, take the long view. The legacy we are building will benefit us now and for generations to come.