Issue date: March 10, 1999
By MARION SOFTKY
Jeffrey Cooper-Smith, formerly executive director of the U.S. Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C., looks forward to leading the Coyote Point Museum of Environmental Education into the next century.
At 27, the San Mateo museum is ready for new vision. As the new director, Mr. Cooper-Smith proposes to build staff, prepare a new master plan, and revamp the main exhibit with more interactive exhibits and more current technology.
"We want more hands-on learning, which is fun," he said.
Mr. Cooper-Smith also wants to expand the appeal of the museum, now primarily for children, to other groups, such as senior citizens, college students and adults.
A botanist and ecologist, he brings to the job 20 years of experience in administration, education, exhibit development, and scientific research.
Besides running a federal bureaucracy with a budget of $3 million and a staff of 45, he has studied the rain forests of Costa Rica, and worked in marketing and business management for major corporations. He also played piano with a professional band in Costa Rica.
"Professionals of his caliber are a rare find," said Charles "Chip" Huggins of Woodside, president of the Coyote Point Museum's board of trustees. "He possesses the scientific background, vision and business acumen to lead the museum in the 21st century."
Mr. Cooper-Smith said he was drawn to Coyote Point because of the museum's reputation as a pioneer in environmental education, and looked forward to working for a smaller institution without all the "political ramifications" of a federal agency responsible to Congress. Besides, he likes California. "With the Sierra, the ocean, the deserts, the redwood forests, to me there isn't a better place to be," he said.
"He has a terrific background and is doing a good job," said former director Linda Liebes of Atherton, who guided the Coyote Point Museum from 1975 to 1995 through fund-raising, opening the new building in 1981, and the new wildlife exhibit in 1991.