Remembering Ruth Gennrich and her legacy of youth science education

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Two children on a dock leaning over inspecting the water and rushes.

Ruth Gennrich, who ran public education programs at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum for over 20 years, died this week at the age of 84. Gennrich earned her master’s degree in systematics and ecology at KU in 1975, and soon after joined the museum as Director of Public Education.

Gennrich greatly expanded the museum’s Summer Workshops for Young People education program, which provided summer science learning for K-12 youth. The program served tens of thousands of children and gave KU students in science fields the paid opportunity to share knowledge with the next generation. In 1985 she received the Kansas Museums Association Award for Excellence. She retired from the KU Natural History Museum in 1998.

Her legacy of quality youth programming continues at the museum today and has expanded to reach youth across the state with a donor-funded Mobile Museum experience.

“I want the children to gain an awareness and understanding of the natural world so that they can make some sensible decisions on environmental issues,” said Gennrich in a 1985 KU Natural History Museum newsletter.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date. Her obituary is available from the Lawrence Journal-World.

Photo:  Two participants in a KU Natural History Museum summer camp explore aquatic life.