The Museum Blog

Category: CMNH Staff

Meet the CMNH Staff: Doug Tilton

Name: Doug Tilton

Title: Visitor Services and Operations Director, Volunteer and Intern Coordinator

How Long He Has Worked at CMNH: 16 years

What is the most fun part of your job?

I like it when I get to see programs and events work well. I also like to see Museum visitors engaged and getting a lot out of the experience.

What is something people might not know about you?

I’m a puppeteer and I trained other people to be puppeteers for years. I never took a theater course, but I ran a theater for 14 years. I was the Associate Director of the Little Red Wagon Touring Program and I helped with New Hampshire outreach.

What is your favorite exhibit at CMNH and why?

The Post Office. I like it because it has mailboxes throughout the museum so it encourages kids to explore other exhibits. Also, there are so many things to do there, sorting mail, delivering mail, running the post office. It even helps kids learn to read!

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Meet the CMNH Staff: Paula Rais

Name: Paula Rais

Title: Vice President of Development and Community Engagement

How Long She Has Been at CMNH: Almost 14 years (since September 2002)

What is the most fun part of your job?

The most fun part of my job is watching the families enjoy the museum and getting to know them. I love to hear stories of how the Museum has impacted people’s lives.

What is something that people might not know about you?

I make my own cards for my family but I am a really bad artist so they are hysterical. I mostly just draw stick figures and my family gets a kick out of them!

What is your favorite exhibit at CMNH and why?

My favorite exhibit is Cocheco Industry because I really like the historical part of it.

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Meet the CMNH Staff: Jane Bard

Name: Jane Bard

Title: President and Education Director

How Long She Has Been at CMNH: 20 years!

What is the most fun part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is to come up with creative solutions and work with a team of people to come up with new experiences for families and children.

What is something that people may not know about you?

I guess people wouldn’t know that I used to be a teacher before I came to work at the Children’s Museum. I taught in a multi-grade 3rd and 4th grade classroom for two years. For something fun, a hobby of mine is that I love helping people plan their vacations and travel plans.

What is your favorite exhibit at CMNH and why?

My favorite exhibit is Primary Place because I love seeing new parents or first-time visitor’s excitement and joy in interacting with their children in that space.

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Meet the CMNH Staff: Jess

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Name: Jess Michaud

Title: Volunteer

How Long She Has Been at CMNH: 1.5 years (New Year's Eve 2013)

What is the most fun part of your job?

I really enjoy interacting with the kids at the museum. Every age has different interests and it's exciting to help children learn about new things and explore the exhibits. I also really love the staff that I work with. They're all so awesome when I come in to volunteer and make it so much fun.

You were recently named the "CMNH Volunteer of the Year". How does it feel?

I was honestly shocked! I enjoy volunteering because it's a reprieve compared to my other jobs. It was very nice to be recognized by CMNH, but I definitely had no idea and was not expecting it.

What is something that people may not know about you?

Whenever I would get asked this kind of question growing up my answer would always be that my mother is an alien. Which is true because she's from Canada!

What is your favorite exhibit at CMNH and why?

I really like the Muse Studio because there's always something new and different going on there.

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Meet the CMNH Staff: Meghan

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Name: Meghan Bullis

Title: Experience Guide Educator

How Long She Has Been at CMNH: 2 years (July 2013)

What is the most fun part of your job?

Schools visit CMNH either as Group Visits (GV) or Focused Group Visits (FGV). I enjoy both, but I really love when the FGVs arrive and I get to teach them in a classroom setting. I love the variety of the FGVs because there are lots of different themes and lessons that we offer. My favorite of those is definitely World Celebrations because I love that we encourage children to learn about and be accepting of other cultures. I also love that I get to work closely with the kids and experience them learning about some subject matter for the first time.

What is something that people may not know about you?

How about three things?! (laughs)

I accidentally marched with soldiers in China once. I was in college and I was sightseeing when I looked up and saw them walking down the sidewalk. Before I knew it, I ended up in the middle of them and I started to panic. I think they knew that I was a tourist because they started laughing at me.

I have a never-ending quest for the perfect Roger Rabbit costume.

I wanted to be a cryptozoologist when I was a kid.

What is your favorite exhibit at CMNH and why?

My favorite exhibit is Adventures in Travel, a.k.a. - the Green Screen, because you can travel all over the world without ever leaving Dover, New Hampshire!

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Meet the CMNH Staff: Anne

Name: Anne Fetters

Title: Volunteer

How Long She Has Been at CMNH: 4 years (Spring 2011)

What is the most fun part of your job?

Most of my time at the museum is spent working with Xanthi and the Wee Ones Wednesdays preschool program. Getting to know each "wee one" 1-on-1 over the course of the school year and their different personalities is easily the most fun part of my job here. The children and their parents are such a fun bunch that it makes every Wednesday morning a totally new - but exciting - experience!

What is something that people may not know about you?

I was a competitive swimmer while I attended Lafayette College.

What is your favorite exhibit at CMNH and why?

I just love the Yellow Submarine. It's obviously one of our biggest and most popular exhibits, but I really like that it serves such a wide age range. It's an exhibit that truly offers something for the entire family.

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Meet the CMNH Staff: Taylore

Name: Taylore Kelly

Title: Marketing and Developing Assistant

How Long She Has Been at CMNH: 10 months (October 2014)

What is the most fun part of your job?

The lightness of everything, since it’s a Children’s Museum. The people I work with too. I like that there’s a very childlike atmosphere, even though we are all professionals. I mean, what kind of job can you go to when you can say, "I have a leopard shark!"? (Taylore immediately picks up a leopard shark puppet from elsewhere in the office and poses with it!)

What is something that people may not know about you?

I play chess. I have since I was five! My dad taught me because my mother wouldn’t play with him and he needed someone to beat.

What is your favorite exhibit at CMNH and why?

Part of the section of the CochecoSystem exhibit known as the Naturalist Study. I love animals and nature so this exhibit really speaks to me!

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CMNH Top 10: Orientation Quotes

Look no further for advice on perfume use, hair care and dental hygiene

Any workplace is going to generate some humorous quotes now and again, but when your workplace is a Children's Museum, your hilarious quote percentage increases exponentially. The most humorous exchanges tend to happen during our Group Visit orientations when we chat with the children and create an open question and answer dialogue that's intended to refresh chaperones and students on museum rules and fill them in on the activities and programs happening that day.

In honor of legendary late night television host David Letterman signing off for the final time this week, I present to you:

The Top Ten Kids' Quotes from this Week

(Yes - just this week.)


#10. "Why do you have a beard?"

This was in response to me asking, "Does anyone have any questions before we start exploring the museum?" To be fair, this kindergartener had a question and he certainly asked it.

"Just because," I answered, quickly seeing in his face what a disappointing answer this was for him.

"But . . . WHY?!" he protested.

I thought for a quick second. (A quick second is about all you can afford yourself when dealing with 40+ 5-year-olds eager to start identifying dinosaur bones.)

"Well, my wife would tell you it's because I'm lazy," I began, getting a laugh from the chaperones, "But I like it because I think it's super cool and it keeps my face warm when it's cold and windy outside."

He nodded his head in approval.


#9. "Can I call you Tall Boy?"

Holding the door open for a school group that just tumbled off the bus Wednesday morning, one of the children - who was between 4 and 5 years old - looked up at me in awe and asked the aformentioned question. To be fair, I'm quite tall at 6'5" and get remarks from full grown adults so I certainly expect it from children who are usually hovering between 3 and 4 feet tall. That said, "Tall Boy" certainly beats, "He must be the Castle Ogre", which a father told his daughter one day years ago when I was cleaning up the Pattern Palace exhibit.

Full disclosure: I told the young man that he could absolutely call me, "Tall Boy". He never did after that, but I think he was happy knowing that he had permission if the need arose.

Eau de Osprey Nest is what Children's Museum employees from Milan to Dover are wearing this year!

#8. "Why are you wearing so much perfume?"

A first grader visiting from out of state asked me this question earlier this week. It's a good question. It's a really good question. I appreciate that she wouldn't be bothered with the thought of me - a very (as we've covered) tall, bearded man - wearing perfume, but the sheer overuse of the flowery scent is what clearly upset her. It should be stated that she asked these words with a very visibly scrunched up face that implied olfactory offense. She was also approximately 30-40 feet away from me. This was some strong perfume. I explained to her that I wasn't wearing any perfume.

"I know. But why so much of it?" she pressed.

This, my friends, is what we call an unwinnable war. I knew conceding defeat was my only viable option.

"I don't know why I used so much of it. I'll be more careful in the future," I solemnly swore to her.

She nodded her head in approval.


#7. "I've got it! You're brother and sister!"

Meghan, an Experience Guide - Educator here at CMNH, and I were jointly leading a large orientation earlier this week in Henry Law Park. Taking advantage of the nice weather, we had the students and teachers file in to the bleachers in front of the Rotary Amphitheater so we could go over the shape of the day with them. Once we introduced ourselves and found out who in the group were returning visitors and who were here for the first time, we opened the floor up for suggestions of potential rules of the museum. Even if a child supplies us with a rule that isn't necessarily "correct", we always know to redirect and focus on the positive parts of what they said thank them for their contribution.

Thus, "Don't poke any of the animals or climb their cages", will get some sort of, "Oh, I WISH we had live animals! But if we did, you are absolutely correct that we couldn't climb their cages. Speaking of animals, who know's what an osprey is? Because we have an osprey nest that . . ." and so forth.

It's hard to catch us off guard. There isn't much we haven't heard. Until this week.

"Who knows a good rule to remember at the museum?" Meghan asked. She called on a Kindergartner in the front row who had his hand raised as high as he could hold it.

"I've got it," he yelled triumphantly. "You're brother and sister!"

Meghan and I tried our best not to laugh. Meghan, understandably shorter than me - with brown hair that's cut long in two sections with blue streaks at the end - has no glasses (as I do) and looks absolutely nothing like me. But this boy was utterly convinced that he had finally solved a mystery that didn't exist.

"Awww, that would be cool if we were," Meghan told the boy. "But we're not sister and brother, I'm afraid. Does anyone else have an idea about a good museum rule?"

A hand, belonging to a boy with very large, curly hair, shot up immediately from the second row. Meghan called on him.

"You must be a Mommy and Daddy together!" he yelled out.

Several other children in the class started nodding their heads satisfactorily, happy to know that even after a false start, it was good to know that Meghan and I were married and, clearly, also had children.

Meghan and I explained quickly that we were in no way related outside the museum and moved forward with a list of museum rules.


#6. "MEL GIBSON!"

When a group of second graders were asked if they had any questions this week, a dark-haired girl in a rainbow sweatshirt raised her hand tentatively. We called on her and she quietly said, "Do . . . do you want to know my name?" Instantly charmed (as we often are), we responded enthusiastically that we, "absolutely wanted to know her name".

"Madison," she responded quietly but confidently and with a smile.

"It's nice to meet you, Madison!" we told her.

Another hand shot up from right behind Madison. A boy, with a grin equal parts teeth and former teeth, seemed to be vibrating with energy.

"Yes, you. In the back," I called.

"Do you want to know my name?" he asked, with none of the shy hesitation that Madison had exhibited.

The whole class seemed as if it was frozen in anticipation waiting for my answer, all their tiny lungs holding their breath at the same time. I sensed something was off but pushed forward nevertheless.

"I sure do," I answered with a large grin.

"MEL GIBSON!" he shouted back.

Now, dear reader, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to think about a time that you laughed so hard that your cried. You cried, your sides hurt and you ran out of breath. You needed to hold on to a fixed object just to steady yourself and regain your composure. Can you envision it?

Now multiply that by 7,000.

The children just absolutely fell out.

They. fell. out.

An absolute cacophony of laughs. Hyenas temporarily replaced these children for the duration of the ol' "Mel Gibson" punchline. I do not presume to understand the "Mel Gibson" joke. Like many early Elementary jokes, I'm quite sure the element of surprise is far more important than the element of logic. All I know is that there's a class of second graders in the state of New Hampshire that are quite confident that they pulled a classic "Mel Gibson" on me. What that means, I have no idea. I'm not sure they do either. But, boy, did they love it.


#5. "Are you really human?"

"Yes, I am," I told the boy, somewhat startled.

"Oh. Good. I told them you were."

I received no explanation who "them" was nor why this hypothetical collective may have questioned my base humanity.

Minty Heroes in a Halfshell!

#4. "I don't like mint."

I love a good story as much as the next person. (Take a look at the length of this blog entry if you don't believe me.) And kids sure do love telling stories. There's no left turn too many, no red herring too confusing, and no lack of mentions of a cousin who has a pet who once walked in a yard next to their friend's house before it started raining and everyone had popsicles and then some of them went swimming but maybe it was also a birthday party where everyone knew that pink was their favorite color. I think you get the idea. I had a little boy in a pre-K group Friday morning that asked me if I liked the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

"I sure do," I answered. "Raphael is my favorite!" (Note: I pronounced it, "RAF-EE-EL")

"I think you meant to say, 'Raphael'." he countered. (Note: He pronounced it, correctly, as "RAF-EYE-ELL")

"My gosh. You're right. You really know your ninja turtles, don't you?"

"Yes. I do. And at my house I have a toothbrush and toothpaste and the toothpaste is Ninja Turtles toothpaste and also I have Ninja Turtles band-aids and the Ninja Turtles toothpaste has all the turtles on it and the Ninja Turtles toothpaste is green just like the Ninja Turtles and the Ninja Turtles toothpaste tastes like mint."

He paused, briefly, to inhale oxygen and I jumped in.

"Wow! You must love that Ninja Turtle toothpaste!" I gushed.

"I don't like mint," he said with extreme seriousness. "And that's why I don't ever brush my teeth. Don't tell my Mom and my Dad."

(It's ok, buddy. I won't tell Mom and Dad, but I will make a blog out of it!)


#3. "Don't whine like a little baby. Nobody likes a whiny baby."

Another quote from Friday morning, this time from some second graders. When I asked what the, "most important rule" was in the entire museum, I'm usually leading towards either, "Have fun!" or "No running!", but this girl's hand shot up so fast that I could tell she was ready for this question.

Her above answer? Is not incorrect. I told her that was a great answer and one everyone would be wise to remember.


#2. "Don't bite anyone. Even if they're your grandparents."

Words to live by.


#1. "I'm in love with your best friend's hair."

Well . . . it's not cliche. I'll give him that. Remember our friend from #7 who thought that if Meghan and I couldn't be brother and sister then we simply must have been husband ("Daddy") and wife ("Mommy")? Well, as we were walking into the museum after the end of orientation, he pulled at my hand. I could tell he had something to say but wanted me to come closer. I did.

"Can I tell you something?" he asked quietly.

"Of course!"

"I'm in love with your best friend's hair."

Clearly, he had landed on the 'fact' that if Meghan and I couldn't be blood related or married, we must be best friends. In general, the kids have responded quite favorably to Meghan's atypical hair coloring. But "responding favorably" is not as high praise as, "love"!

"Do you want to tell Meghan what you think about her hair?"

"NO!"

"I see. Well, do you want me to tell her?"

" . . . Yes."

And I did.

It was her favorite quote of the week.





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