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People to Watch 2019: Anne Weerda brings ‘amazing science’ to children

Anne Weerda is among the Register Star’s 2019 People to Watch. Read complete coverage Sunday’s newspaper.

ROCKFORD — Anne Weerda’s children are growing up in museums.

Shadowing their mom, who is executive director of the Burpee Museum of Natural History, Mikey, 8, Estella, 6, and Tommy, 4, roam the 737 N. Main St. museum’s floors, talking to the experts and letting her know if they see room for improvement.

“I can’t think of anything better than bringing my children up inside of a museum,” Weerda said. “The kinds of questions they come up with and the kinds of questions they get to try to answer just by exploring here (and) talking to real scientists is unreal.”

She wants as many Rockford children as possible to have the same opportunities.

Weerda, 40, has been on a roll as Burpee’s boss. She has increased attendance and donations. Under her tenure, the museum has created a podcast, BurpeeCast Kids!

The museum also has created a mobile app that lets users interact with Burpee exhibits. Using a smartphone or tablet, a user can inspect some of the museum’s treasures — such as moccasins or skulls — and zoom in for three-dimensional details.

“Creatively speaking, there’s so much we can do,” Weerda said. “The potential is just so amazing and exciting, to think that we have a community that’s willing to learn and participate. …It’s just the perfect storm to have amazing science.”

Susan Vela: 815-987-1392; svela@rrstar.com; @susanvela