Jessica Isner is a photographer and mother of three who has a passion for providing opportunities for young people.

Isner along with Cheryl Miller, are co-founders of the Jackson County Early Explorers organization. They were the guest speakers at the Ripley Rotary luncheon on Wednesday, Jan. 16 where they discussed their vision with the group.

Isner and Miller wish to create a children’s museum in Jackson County where children along with their parents can experience hands-on activities and learn together.

“It is all about building the bonds between parents and children,” Isner said. “It’s time to put down the electronic devices, turn off the television, and experience nature as a family.”

Isner and the JCEE recently received a grant through the Jackson County Community Foundation which they are using to enhance the experience of discovery for families with young children ages 1-7.

With the grant through the Jackson County Community Foundation Inc., the JCEE will be hosting a Winter Wonderland in the vocational building at Cedar Lakes for six weeks beginning in February. The playroom will be open Feb. 2 through March 2 for 13, three-hour sessions, including evenings and weekends. A full schedule is available at

Isner said the JCEE is looking for a more permanent location for its discovery museum.

“I believe children learn through play and they need safe and accessible places to do so,” Isner said. “Our ultimate goal would be to open up the Appalachian Children’s Museum & Discovery Park right here in Jackson County.”

Other items discussed:

• Ceason Ranson began a discussion on the organization of the Adopt-A-Family program. It was noted there needs to be a smoother way to run the toy room. Also mentioned was the idea of growing the donation list for teenagers by accepting essential items throughout the year that can be stored until needed.

• Dr. and Mrs. Bill Kuryla expressed their excitement for details included on the lists for the Adopt-A-Family requests. The shared the fun the had with their grandkids picking out items for the teens in the family they purchased for.

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