A familiar name and face in Tioga County, Scott MacDonald joins the Tioga County Historical Society Museum, located at 110 Front St. in Owego, N.Y., as its new Executive Director effective Jan. 3. MacDonald, the former Executive Director of Apalachin’s Waterman Conservation Education Center, brings to the museum decades of management experience, a passion for history and education, and a genuine love of the community.
Regarding his tenure at Waterman, MacDonald chuckled as he remembered young people who called him “Mr. Waterman,” and is proud to have shared environmental literacy with thousands of young people who participated in programs and camps at the center.
MacDonald commented that he was ready to pursue something new and described his exit as simply, “Having achieved as much as I could.”
Looking back, MacDonald’s interest in Waterman began soon after he received a membership from his father-in-law. Starting off as a volunteer in 1997, MacDonald grew with the non-profit and stepped into the Executive Director role in 2001. While there, he promoted environmental and animal habitat conservation and outdoor recreation activities, and regularly delivered educational presentations and set up exhibits.
Moreso, MacDonald worked in acquiring and preserving the IBM Glen, oversaw and coordinated the Brick Pond restoration to become a federally protected wetland, and continued to manage and conserve Hiawatha Island.
In addition, Waterman Center expanded its system of nature trails, gardens and museum, and was one of the first area businesses to have solar panels installed, work accomplished by MacDonald by securing grants and tax credits.
Being surrounded by wetlands and wildlife helped MacDonald understand and manage at Waterman, and now, referring to the point that he has a new learning curve, said, “Managing a museum is something else,” and explained he will engage with the staff, and, going forward, will learn everything he can about the museum’s operations.
MacDonald, with real estate management and other technical experience in hand, relocated to the area from his native California, along with his wife, an East Coast native and school teacher, and two young children. MacDonald’s two sons, both Eagle Scouts, followed the education path and are now music teachers in public schools. MacDonald has given back to the community, too, having been involved in area organizations like Kiwanis and the Boy Scouts, among others.
The MacDonald’s life-long farming passion developed Wild Rose Farm, located on Catlin Hill Road in Owego. Wild Rose, a certified organic NOFA-NY farm that dates back to the early 1800’s, raises lamb, chicken, vegetables, eggs and turkeys.
Excited about his new venture, MacDonald has a preliminary list of goals. He is developing plans to help grow the number of visitors to the museum, which includes fostering a better connection with schools and increasing partnerships, such as with the local Tourism and Chamber offices, and others.
MacDonald would like to increase the rotation of fresh and recycled exhibits at the museum, while keeping popular exhibits active, such as the current Quilts & Crafts by the River, which is on display through March 10. Permanent items will be displayed ongoing.
MacDonald’s to-do-list also includes changing-up the museum’s brand recognition and expanding the museum’s presence on social media while also improving aspects of the website.
MacDonald commented, “I want to develop generational visitors to the museum, too,” and further explained that he foresees generations of families making a trip to the museum part of a regular tradition.
An upcoming exhibit, Two Centuries of Defending Freedom, and planned to run May 19 through Sept. 29, will showcase an exhibit of U.S. Military uniforms, weapons and other artifacts from the museum’s collection. For this exhibit, MacDonald commented that the museum would consider contributions from the public.
For more information, visit the museum website at tiogahistory.org, call (607) 687-2460 or find them on Facebook. Museum hours are Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.