Hard work equals great rewards for Louisiana’s best high school students who can enjoy free admission along with their families to Audubon Nature Institute attractions and the New Orleans Museum of Art on Taylor Family Free Day, Sunday, August 7.
For two decades, Audubon Nature Institute has partnered with the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation and the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) to recognize students’ exceptional accomplishments in the classroom.
Phyllis M. Taylor, Chairman and President of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, announced recently that the Taylor Scholars Award Program has achieved a growth of about 5 percent in the 2015/2016 academic year, rewarding nearly 205,000 students – an increase of about 8,400 students over the prior year – by providing them with free one-year memberships to New Orleans Museum of Art, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.
Taylor Family Free Day offers an additional reward for Taylor/Audubon students and scholars, who can invite parents or guardians and two family members or friends to visit free on this special day (a total of four free admissions in addition to the Taylor Student/Scholar.) The special day also features discounts for qualified students and their guests at NOMA and Audubon gift shops and a discount at Entergy Giant Screen Theater at the Aquarium. At Audubon Zoo, discounts also are available for the Cool Zoo water park and Gator Run, Carousel and Swamp Train.
At a recent luncheon with a small group of Taylor scholars, Mrs. Taylor said inspiration for the program was “quite simple.” “The question was how do we motivate young people to be participants,” Mrs. Taylor said. “And what a better opportunity than to give them a chance – if they do the right courses and make the right grades in school – to give them a reward, a recognition. And you can’t beat a chance to come to the Audubon Zoo or the Aquarium.”
Mrs. Taylor said participation has exceeded her expectations. “Never did we believe that our program would reach and go to the extent as it has. It shows you the desire and the hunger that children – young adults I should really call them – to better themselves to learn what is happening in the world and to make a difference.”
Asked if she had any advice for program participants, Mrs. Taylor said: “Just keep doing what you’re doing because your future and our future is in your hands.”
The Patrick F. Taylor Foundation has dedicated $900,000 to an endowment for the Taylor/Audubon Students and Scholars Program, allowing it to continue in perpetuity. Eligible students earn a one-year membership to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium for achieving a minimum 2.5 grade point average. Students who earn a grade point average of 3.0 or above also qualify for an additional one-year membership to Audubon Zoo.
“Audubon attractions are the best places for young people to learn about the wonders of nature,” said Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman. “We can’t wait to open our doors to Louisiana’s brightest high school students and their families on August 7.”
The Taylor Scholars Awards Program is open to all Louisiana students in grades 7 through 12 whether they attend public, private or parochial schools. Parents or guardians may accompany qualifying students free of charge throughout the year.
The Taylor/Audubon Students and Scholars Program was created in 1996 through a generous gift from the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation. The program was the first of its kind in the nation. In 1997, it was followed with the creation of the Taylor/NOMA Scholars Program through a separate endowment from the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation.
“As an art museum, we have the opportunity to engage young adults and expose them to new experiences and inspire learning through the arts,” said Susan Taylor, director of the New Orleans Museum of Art.
“With the support of the foundation, NOMA has the ability to create a fresh and exciting way for Taylor Scholars to open themselves up to art, language, history and culture. We are honored to be a part of the Taylor Scholars program and we look forward to hosting Taylor Scholars with their families on August 7.”
Nicholas Albert, a Taylor Scholar and Lusher Charter School graduate who will be attending Harvard University in the fall, said the program has been an inspiration for him. “It gave me a chance to really work hard and I integrated that into my character,” Albert said.
“Just the whole working hard and reaching my goals and there’s always a reward at the end. That’s something I will carry with me when I start college next year.” Claudia Rodriguez, an Ursuline Academy graduate headed to LSU, called the program “a really nice reward for all our hard work throughout the year. “The biggest takeaway is to just never settle for the bare minimum, just go the extra mile and really chase your dream,” Rodriguez said.
On Sunday, August 7, Taylor Scholars are asked to check in at membership windows at Audubon attractions and NOMA with their Taylor Card and to bring a photo ID. If a Taylor Card is reported lost, students must bring their most recent report card and a photo ID to request a new Taylor award certificate.