ELKINS - James D. Porterfield, director of the Center for Railway Tourism at Davis & Elkins College, was among nine representatives from throughout the nation selected by the Association of Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums (ATRRM) to participate in 2016 Museums Advocacy Day (MAD) in Washington, D.C. The annual event, coordinated by the American Alliance of Museums, emphasizes the value of museums to local communities.
The ATRRM representatives made up the largest group participating in MAD who met with elected representatives on behalf of the Alliance of American Museums. Porterfield's invitation to participate was unique in that he represented the interests of the entire state of West Virginia, not just the 2nd Congressional District where Davis & Elkins College is located.
"Our goal was to stress to the elected representatives of our respective states the importance of re-authorizing the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the federal granting agency responsible for distributing funds authorized by Congress to museums and libraries, and of ensuring that the funds then allocated for that purpose are spent," Porterfield says.
In pursuit of that goal, Porterfield, accompanied by Christin Byrum of the Museums of Oglebay Institute in Wheeling, W.Va., met with Congressman David McKinley, R-1st District, and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and legislative assistants for Congressmen Alex Mooney, R-2nd District, and Evan Jenkins, R-3rd District, and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Porterfield and Byrum pointed out how the current $31.3 million awarded annually in federal grants can be instrumental in generating additional monies for a broad array of cultural and educational pursuits. As an example, Byrum cited ways her institution built on IMLS grants with additional grants and private donations. They also urged the elected representatives to support increasing that spending to the full $38 million authorized.
"That’s why it was important to meet all of the state's elected representatives and gently remind them of the critical role museums and libraries play in preserving history and making it available to the state’s citizens and visitors alike,” Porterfield says.
In fall 2015, the Center for Railway Tourism at Davis & Elkins College hosted the inaugural West Virginia Railway Heritage Initiative, a conference devoted to finding ways to promote the state’s unique railroad history and practices to the growing heritage tourism market. The Center will host the Sounds of Railroading Conference, June 3-5, and concert on June 4.
The Center for Railway Tourism at Davis & Elkins College is a component of the management program within the Division of Business & Entrepreneurship. The Center enables students to earn the credentials and experience necessary to undertake and succeed at a career in railway heritage and tourism management.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.