#TravelMatters is the topic of conversation this week for National Tourism Week. One thing we know is that travel does matter. The impact of travel is huge on our city, state, and country. Shawnee is home to many amazing attractions, all of which require amazing people to run them. We spoke to Amber DeBoise-Shepherd about her job as the Manager of Education and Outreach at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art.
Amber is new to the tourism industry but understands completely the impact that tourism has on our community. With a background in art, Amber began her position mid-April 2019. She brings a fresh, young insight to the education department, as well as the proper credentials. As a child, Amber recalls visiting the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art and bragging about how the city she lived in had mummies!
What do you think a museum like the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art brings to Shawnee?
It brings a chance for the people of Shawnee to experience different cultures and arts around the world. When I was little, my parents took me to museums. I always loved coming to Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, and I loved the mummies. It allows the opportunity to open and broaden your mind about other museums and other history.
Why do you think tourism is important to jobs like yours?
Tourism allows for us to reach different people from different areas. Even working at the front desk area at the museum, I was able to meet people from all over the world. They got to see our culture here. They got to see the Native culture, and since I am Native American, I was able to offer my perspective too. It also brings in income for our area. It is very important to draw people in with different aspects of OUR culture, but also the world’s culture.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Following in Donna’s footsteps. She was here for 10 years, and in the short amount of time I got to know her, I know she was passionate about this job. I can see why it is so important for the education and outreach in Shawnee. I love receiving hugs from kids. It is eye-opening to see how rewarding it is. Another challenge is making sure that we get enough funds to run the programs but going out of my way to make sure the programs continue running.
My next question was “What is most rewarding about your job”, but I know it must be the hugs from the kids!
It is. It is rewarding to hear from the community that the kids really want to come back. They get to take a tour with the docents, and it is fun to see the interaction there. They get to create a piece of art that they take home too. They also get to talk about the mummies and knights’ armors. They talk and they interpret what is going on in a certain painting. The feedback is awesome. Learning from the docents is really fulfilling too because they do their own research!
What are some exciting upcoming things happening at MGMoA?
It is our 100th birthday! Centennial Anniversary! It’s been 100 years since the museum was established in 1919! Go to our website, follow our Facebook, or sign up for our newsletter to follow the information! Creative arts camps coming up starting in the middle of June running through July. All that information can be found online. Fun activities for the kids at the museum, interacting with the collection and creating a piece of art.
Anything else you’d like to mention about your job?
I just really enjoy my job. So far it is challenging, but I really enjoy a challenge. I have always been inspired to rise above. I look forward to developing more into our Native American collection. My perspective of growing up in a traditional Native American home, it can really lend itself to education there. I always end up teaching people about myself and my Native American culture, so I really look forward to developing that program and coming up with new activities for the kids!
This is just one perspective of many jobs that are associated with travel in our community. In the state of Oklahoma, travel creates jobs to the tune of about 86,780 jobs, according to numbers from the U.S. Travel Association.
Be sure to check out the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art on our website if you haven’t already!