State Treasurer Don Stenberg opened the Fantastic Future Me exhibit at the Kearney Area Children’s Museum on Thursday as guests checked out the interactive exhibit that encourages children to dream big and follow their dreams.
The Kearney Children’s Museum is the third museum to host the traveling exhibit that has received positive reviews at children’s museums in Hastings and Lincoln, earlier stops on the across-the-state tour. The exhibit will be at the Kearney museum in the Alia Arram Memorial Building, 5827 Fourth Ave., through Nov. 17.
The Fantastic Future Me exhibit is sponsored by First National Bank of Omaha, program manager for the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST). Treasurer Stenberg is Trustee of NEST, Nebraska’s state-sponsored 529 college savings program, which takes its name from Section 529 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.
“At NEST, we talk about children dreaming for their futures and parents and grandparents saving for those dreams. The theme fits perfectly with tonight’s event here in Kearney as children begin to explore Fantastic Future Me. Boys and girls can picture themselves as artists or computer programmers, as scientists or teachers, as pilots, and even as the President of the United States,” Stenberg said in prepared remarks.
As a parent and grandparent, Stenberg said he knows children are often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The Fantastic Future Me exhibit gives children a glimpse of the endless ways to dream about that commonly asked question and a chance to visualize many of the possibilities for their futures, he said. The exhibit appeals to a wide age range from preschoolers to preteens.
“How these children envision their futures is up to them, but the adults in their lives have a very important role to play in how the children get there. My message to you, adults, today is to encourage your children’s hopes and dreams, to look into Nebraska’s college savings program, and to start saving for your children’s future now when they are young,” Stenberg said. “My message to you, children, is this: Dream big, work hard, try on many different hats, never give up, and save your money for a rainy day.”
At the Fantastic Future Me exhibit, a child takes a photo of his or her face using a large touch screen and camera and then drags and drops elements representing difference careers onto the image, creating a one-of-a-kind Future Me avatar. The Future Me avatar can be shared with family and friends by email and on social media platforms.
A permanent Fantastic Future Me exhibit is in place at the Omaha Children’s Museum. The exhibit, created by the Omaha museum, was inspired by Dr. Shane Lopez, a Gallup senior scientist. Gallup’s research shows that thinking about what they want to be when they grow up is one way children become excited about the future and begin to understand the steps necessary to reach their goals.
NEST is a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan and provides four plans to help make saving for college simple and affordable: NEST Direct College Savings Plan, the NEST Advisor College Savings Plan, the TD Ameritrade 529 College Savings Plan, and the State Farm College Savings Plan. The Nebraska State Treasurer serves as Program Trustee. First National Bank of Omaha serves as Program Manager, and all investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council. Families nationwide are saving for college using Nebraska’s 529 College Savings Plans, which have more than 261,000 accounts, including 84,000 in Nebraska. Visit NEST529.com and treasurer.nebraska.gov for more information.