Helping the Teachers Teach Local History

The Olympia Tumwater Foundation has been expanding its local history focus with the “Heritage Builders” program. A lot of work is taking place in the rich archives at the Schmidt House, the history talks and tours continue to attract more visitors and cultural tourists, local historians’ conferences are enhancing the ties of cooperation in the South Sound area, our new blog at www.olytumfoundation.org features many new articles, and our new 3-minute history videos “Talking Over Old Times” are available for viewing.

Something new was added on January 26 that not only builds upon our history program but also builds upon another important part of the foundation’s mission: education. For many years OTF has been the leading area scholarship provider to students. Now our history program has reached out to Thurston County fourth grade teachers in public and private schools with an Oregon Trail Colloquium, a 2 ½ hour free training session led by Ray Egan of the Oregon and California Trails Association (OCTA). Our goal through this colloquium was to teach teachers about our area’s early pioneers and their difficult journey by wagon train over the Oregon, Cowlitz and Naches trails. Thirteen teachers took advantage of Ray’s great knowledge and resources that evening and the response has been quite positive. One of the teachers (from Griffin School) said, “Thank you for hosting the Oregon Trail Colloquium. I not only teach about the Oregon Trail, it is a passion of mine. Please let us know if you have future events like this. We’d love to attend.”

 Ray Egan also enjoyed himself, saying, “It was incredibly smooth, and a great venue. I enjoyed myself immensely. I don’t get to say that as often as I’d like.”

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In this photo, Ray is shown in costume with other history reenactors as they visited South Pass in the Rockies with a live ox team.

The educational history event was an outreach experiment that went well. We hope to build upon this as we honor our rich local history and support our educators and their students.

by Don Trosper January 29,2016

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