A $25,000 donation will enable Kalamazoo’s Air Zoo to create an exhibit about women in aviation and will fund scholarships for girls who attend a new summer camp, Air Zoo officials said on May 8.
The money is coming from the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund, a trust fund created in the early 1900s by Jacob Schmidlapp, the father of Charlotte Schmidlapp and a founder of what is now Fifth Third Bank, said Patrick J. Lonergan, the Michigan bank’s vice president of community affairs. Fifth Third officials began talks with the Air Zoo about the funding about a year ago, he said.
“Their goal was to draw attention to and put an emphasis on women’s accomplishments in aviation, math and science, and that’s why a portion of the grant will go toward building a permanent exhibit at the Air Zoo on that topic,” said Debra Mixis, the Air Zoo’s curator of education.
“There’s a portion of that grant which was set aside to develop and implement the Girls Science Academy (a new summer camp), which is really meant for girls who have an interest in science and want to explore all the possibilities and careers in areas that open up to them,” she said. The Air Zoo operates several summer camps for youths of various ages, such as its astronaut, rocketry and control-line aircraft camps. Last year, 22% of Air Zoo camp participants were girls. “I don’t think that’s high enough,” Mixis said. “We want to encourage girls to be interested in math and science and aviation and technology and space.”
The grant will fund 15 full scholarships for attending the Girls Science Academy, designed for girls between the ages of 9 and 14. It is scheduled for Aug. 24 to 28. To be considered for a scholarship, girls must write a 500-word essay about why they’re applying and what they expect to gain from the camp experience. Essays are due by July 1 and should be sent to: Air Zoo Scholarship Essay Contest, Attn: Cindy Scheuer, 6151 Portage Road, Portage, MI 49002.
In addition to the scholarship slots, the camp will have 15 more spots available at a cost of $150 each.
For information: www.airzoo.org/