Ignite Society Recognizes Members with Second Annual Appreciation Event

On Tuesday, July 19, members of the Museum’s Ignite Society joined together to celebrate a year of change and growth. The private appreciation event is held each year at the Museum after hours to highlight the new exhibits, share food and drink, and catch up on everything the CMSM has done over the past year. Ignite Society members care deeply about the Museum’s growth, but they don’t necessarily visit on a regular basis, so this event gives them that chance. 

Ignite Society annual event at the Childens Museum of Southern Minnesota


Ignite Society supports of the Children's Museum of Southern MinnesotaFounded recently in 2021, the Ignite Society is a group of friends of the Museum, who donate $500 or more a year. The Museum’s mission directs us to ignite the natural curiosity of every child and the Ignite Society recognizes the support of our donors who make leadership contributions to our annual operations. These leadership donors ensure that the Museum is always at the forefront of innovation and creates new opportunities for every child in our region to realize the benefits of the Power of Play. Ignite Society donors embody the generous spirit of our region and we are so grateful for their commitment to our Mission. 

There are currently 141 members of the group, who enjoy special events and advanced notice about new exhibits. The intention is to deepen our donors’ relationship with the Museum and encourage more support in the future.


Admission and membership revenue alone does not balance the Museum’s budget each year. We depend on philanthropy to not only close the gap not covered by fees, but more than that, philanthropy provides a margin of excellence at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, allowing our focus to be on creating engaging experiences for all children. 

“The goal of the Ignite Society is to bring really world class, absolutely superb exhibits to the young kids of our area here. Something that only exists in the world’s largest markets, and here in Mankato, we have it. The Ignite Society will help support this and bring it to Mankato.”
–Denny Dotson, Ignite Society Founding Member


The Museum is a place for ALL families, but families who have additional challenges and barriers motivate us to innovate and develop experiences that reflect our region and its diverse cultures and people – and also challenge children to think and act differently than they may otherwise. 

“I like that the word ignite is an action word. I like that we ignite the curiosity of children, but I like that we ignite the curiosity of the community; I like that we ignite the curiosity of the parents who bring their children here. They get a chance to see what children do. Here, they are with their children, and they get to see a well thought-out intentional environment for children.”
–Karen Wahlstrom, Founding Board Member and IS Founding Member  

“I have a speech delayed son who LOVES coming to the Museum. During this pandemic we’ve been limited to what types of interactions we can have. And now being involved in the Museum again, I’m hoping he will thrive with the hands-on experience.”

“The Children’s Museum is so important for children, especially children who are in foster care. The Museum promotes enjoyment and sharing of authentic cultural and natural heritage and helps children grow through play. Our foster kids and adoptive kids have gained critical thinking, empathy, and sharing skills.” 

–Museum Guests 


Like so many of our guests and supporters right now, the Ignite Society is excited for the Museum’s proposed expansion, and it was all they could talk about at the event on July 19th. 

“Well, the Museum is in an exciting time. Right now, we have the opportunity to launch a significant expansion of the Museum, taking the existing outdoor footprint from a small area we have now all the way to the end of the block where Sibley Parkway and Riverfront meet. I think it’s going to be about 3 acres total.”
–Paul Schneider, Board Member and Ignite Society Founding Member

“When I think about where children spend their time and how they spend their time, it’s pretty structured. Kids spend a lot of time in the back seats of minivans driving from one activity to the next. When we think about what’s good for kids, they need to be playing, and they need to be interacting with one another, and they need to be digging and exploring natural elements. That’s what I’m really excited about with the expansion: a lot of opportunities  for natural play, nature play, adventure, and risky play, which really allows children to figure out who they are. Because it’s only in those opportunities where they toe the line between what’s comfortable and what’s not comfortable; that’s really where they come to find out ‘What am I made of? What am I scared of?’”
–Dr. Heather Von Bank, Board Member and Ignite Society Founding Member


Channeling your donation dollars into the youth of our community is never a bad idea. If you’d like to make a donation in any amount, please do. And if you’d like to be recognized for your outstanding philanthropy in support of our Power of Play mission as an Ignite Society member, then consider a donation of $500 or more. Gifts can be made through a one-time contribution or by setting up multiple payments throughout a 12-month period. (That’s just $42 a month or $1.50 a day!) You can give online at cmsouthernmn.org or by calling Lou Dickmeyer at 507.344.9104. 

“We want to thank all that have become members of the Ignite Society, I want to say a personal thank you to all those that are helping make this dream stay alive and come true for all of us.”
–Linda Frost, Founding Board Member and Ignite Society Founding Member

Join the Ignite Society of Southern Minnesota in Mankato

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