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Longtime NC science museum director to retire

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RALEIGH -- As the leader of one the country's most state of the art Natural Science museum, Dr. Betsy Bennett herself is a force of nature.

"It's been such a good fit for me. It's used all my experience, all my talents, it's been an exciting job, and yes it's been 22 years, but it has flown by,” Bennett said of her career at the Raleigh museum.

Having helped open Discovery Place in Charlotte, Dr. Bennett first came to the Triangle in 1990 with a vision, helping raise $71 million to open the museum ten years later, a place where young and old alike continue to learn.

"It has exceeded my expectations, and now we've got an amazing classroom for people to come and really learn about science in a very experiential way," Bennett said.

And now, more than two decades later, Bennett's hard work continues to pay off.

Most recently with the opening of the three story, 80,000 square foot Nature Research Center.

"Seventy thousand people came to that opening, people love it, they're coming back, and we've seen an amazing diversity of people experiencing the Nature Research Center and the Museum," Bennett said.

When she first came to the museum, Dr. Bennett was the first ever female director. And now more and more women are in the field, thanks in part to the pioneer.

"I hope I am a role model for young women growing up. It is one of the most creative, interesting jobs you can have, and I hope a lot of young women aspire to work in museums and direct museums," Bennett said.

And while her long career is coming to an end, her legacy will live on much like the artifacts inside the museum.

Dr. Bennett also serves as a board member of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, the North Carolina Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative, and the Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park.

She will officially step down at the end of the year and said she doesn't have set plans for her retirement. The museum is conducting a national search for her replacement.

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