Investing in Generation Z

John Dodge is also a trustee with the Olympia Tumwater Foundation.

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Olympia Tumwater Foundation scholarship committee

A Writers Life - John Dodge

My faith in Generation Z was buoyed this week by an opportunity to help judge two South Sound college scholarship contests, one sponsored by the Olympia Tumwater Foundation and the other by Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty.

Through essays, detailed scholarship applications and interviews, I caught a glimpse of hard times and high hopes, adversity and achievement, dreams and drama playing out for a generation born from 1995 to 2012. They are 23 million strong and coming of age in a world of deadly school gun violence, disruptive climate change, soaring costs of higher education, nuclear proliferation and so much more.

Granted my sample size was just a few more than 100. But I came away convinced that, despite the challenges they face, they are ready to step boldly into adulthood. I met a wannabe astronaut, several aspiring bioengineers, future social workers and architects and design engineers. I hope some…

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Brewery History Presentation Packs out the House

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The Foundation’s latest noon talk, a history of the Olympia Brewing Company, was presented on March 15 by Foundation assistant curator Megan Ockerman to another capacity crowd at the Schmidt House.

Megan earned her Master’s degree from WSU in 2017 with her thesis on the Olympia Brewing Company history.  That was the basis for her well-received lecture that included many historic photos, several artifacts and an Olympia Beer commercial from the early 1970s that brought a big round of applause, and even elicited a few tears.  The one minute spot featured the jingle “Oly Oly O” and highlighted Olympia brewery employees from the era.

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Megan Ockerman

Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet was among those impressed by Megan’s presentation stating “Tumwater is fortunate to have people of Megan’s caliber impassioned by its history.”

The program was video recorded by TC Media and will be replayed on Tumwater’s Comcast local channel 26 and archived on the City’s YouTube link by early April.

The Olympia Tumwater Foundation, in association with the City of Tumwater, offers many talks, tours, and videos throughout the year.  For more information on these popular programs visit: or email: or call 360-786-8117.  All talks are free, but your donations are gratefully accepted to help support these community efforts.

“Elephant Hunting in Thurston County”

The new season of free monthly history talks at the historic Schmidt House kicked off with a full house on Thursday, Oct. 20 with a presentation from archaeologist Dr. Dale Croes about the earliest confirmed humans in our area at the time of the Ice Age.   Talk about history!  This was Pre-History in an illustrated talk titled “Elephant Hunting in Thurston County”.  Dr. Croes not only talked about the mastadons, sabre-toothed tigers, giant bears and other ancient animals that lived here, but also shared artifacts from the early humans that lived here.  He also shared some very interesting evidence-based theories of how those people arrived here on the land bridge from Asia and how they came inland to our area from what is today’s Grays Harbor.

The presentation concluded with a unique demonstration in the back yard of the Schmidt House grounds of a working replica of an early hunting weapon that was used with great impact by those early people.  Those who stayed for the demonstration were impressed with the power and ballistics that early weapon produced.

Our next speaker is from Washington State Parks.  On Thursday, Nov. 17, Sam Wotipka will be giving the history of both Tolmie and Millersylvania State Parks here in Thurston County.  Its first come first seated as doors open at 11:30 a.m. for the noon hour talk.  Doors close as we reach capacity, which happened with Dr. Croes’ talk.  We at the “Heritage Builders” program would love to see you here.

Don Trosper