The Johnny Appleseed Society

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Meet Mikaela Prescott

April 30, 2022. What is the most important part of a fence? The posts, which anchor it to the ground? Or the rails or wire, that will keep the insides in and outsiders out?

In fact, it is neither of these: it is the cowboy, who rides the fence and keeps it in repair. Without his work, no fence would last long. So it is with our Museum: the collection, the artwork, the reference library are all very well, but without someone to keep these up and keep us open, they would end up mouldering in disuse.

Mikaela Prescott (pictured above) is our "cowboy." In February, she began the first phase of a four-part contract to bring our Museum back to life.

The Johnny Appleseed Foundation began the search for a "business manager" — someone to deal with re-organizing the collection and dealing with the many contractors expected to be involved in renovating and redecorating Browne Hall — late in 2021.

After candidate interviews in January, the position's description was elaborated to identify four steps needed to get from here to re-opening. First comes inventorying and cataloguing. Next comes the design of the Museum, as we expand to fill the entire ground floor of the building.

Given the new design, as well as the need for repairs and refurbishment, the third phase requires managing a project with multiple contractors and deadlines. And finally, in the last phase the revived Museum needs promotion, as well as strong relationships with the local Urbana community and the many historical museums and societies in our region.

Ms. Prescott comes to us with museum experience: she interned at the Clinton County History Center, doing research and design work for a new permanent exhibit on the county's natural history, and served three years as collections and archives assistant at Wilmington College's Quaker Heritage Museum, doing archival digitization and preservation work.

Since agreeing to her Phase 1 contract, she has worked with Society volunteers to complete the inventory, while working with the Foundation's redesign committee to work out a new display plan. Impressed with her energy and ideas, the Foundation is now preparing the Phase 2 contract: completing details on the design, and determining how and by whom it will be executed.

The Foundation still hopes to have the Museum ready for re-opening by John Chapman's 248th birthday, September 26 this year. We expect Mikaela to play a major role in helping us meet that deadline!