The #GetItDowntown Experience



One of Maryland’s largest Main Streets, Downtown Frederick provides residents and visitors alike with the opportunity to support their neighborhood while enjoying a charming, authentic experience just outside the nation’s capital. With great activities, history-lined streets and a vibrant atmosphere year-round, it is no wonder that Downtown Frederick is a popular place to shop during the holiday season. With featuring more than 150 unique shops and 40 tasty restaurants (many of which have earned national acclaim), you can be sure to find something for everyone in Downtown Frederick. Frosty Friday (11/28) and Small Business Saturday (11/29) are sure to be a blast with great Downtown Doorbuster Bag Giveaways, fun activities and holiday cheer for the whole family. And with our celebrated Three Saturdays in December – featuring live music, late shopping hours, fantastic dining and gallery openings – your Downtown Frederick holiday shopping experience is guaranteed to be a vibrant memory shared with friends and family.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Visitors to Downtown Frederick also can use hashtags to share their holiday shopping experience: Downtown Frederick Partnership is promoting #GetItDowntown and #DowntownFrederick as an opportunity to connect with local businesses and your fellow Shop Small supporters. Here at the Partnership, we are confident that together we can make a real economic impact by joining the #ShopSmall movement and supporting our local businesses on #SmallBusinessSaturday.

Why #ShopSmall?

In addition to supporting local business owners (many of whom may be friends, family and neighbors), Downtown Frederick boasts plenty of reasons to join the Shop Small and Small Business Saturday movements. The economic impact of shopping locally has been shown time and time again, with studies indicating that as much as $.48 of every dollar recirculates locally when spent at a small business (as opposed to $.14 of every dollar spent at a chain store). Research also shows that small businesses, in general, return more money to their local community than their corporate competitors.

Beyond the national data, Downtown Frederick Partnership has identified five great reasons to Get It Downtown:

WHAT’S SPENT HERE STAYS HERE – Get it in Downtown Frederick and more of your money is reinvested in the local economy instead of corporate offices in distant cities. Shop at a national chain and very little of your money stays local. Buy online and your local economy rarely gets a dime.

WE KNOW OUR STUFF – Downtown Frederick business owners are passionate about what we do. We sell what you want—not what corporate headquarters tell us you should buy. We spend time in our shops and restaurants, making sure our customers are well cared for.

LOCAL BUSINESSES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS – Just like you, we care about our community and the people who live here. That’s why Downtown Frederick businesses give back in a big way, supporting nonprofits, sports teams, schools and other organizations that make our community great.

IT’S THE GREEN THING TO DO – Our walkable downtown means less driving for you and more energy saved. Small businesses tend to be greener by nature, engaging in eco-friendly practices and shopping local for goods and services. We want to preserve our city and our earth.

THERE’S ONLY ONE DOWNTOWN FREDERICK – With our one-of-a-kind specialty shops and restaurants, Downtown Frederick stands out in a sea of “clone towns.” We have a personality all our own… friendly, vibrant, eclectic and thriving. With your help, we’ll keep it that way.

Downtown Frederick Partnership works to enhance, promote, and preserve the vitality and economic viability of Downtown Frederick by implementing the national Main Street Program for the benefit of Frederick businesses, residents and visitors.

Small-business-saturday-logo

National Teacher Seminar Scheduled in Middleburg



In collaboration with Ancestry, and its affiliates Fold3.com and AncestryK12.com, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership is inviting teachers to participate in a professional development seminar on how to engage students in a service-learning program using primary source-based research.  This service-learning program introduces students to primary source documents as they examine fallen Civil War soldiers from their own communities. By learning about these men, history—both local and national—comes alive for the participating researchers. As they get to know “their” soldier, students make connections between their lives and those that came before them, ultimately allowing them to understand that this war impacted every single American.

Ancestry Senior Executive Brock Bierman and JTHG President Cate Magennis Wyatt sign a partnership agreement during a tree planting ceremony at Gettysburg National Military Park on November 19, 2013.

Ancestry Senior Executive Brock Bierman and JTHG President Cate Magennis Wyatt sign a partnership agreement during a tree planting ceremony at Gettysburg National Military Park on November 19, 2013.

Once completed, the research is used for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership’s Living Legacy Tree Planting Project, an initiative with the goal of planting one tree for each of the 620,000 fallen Civil War soldiers, becoming the first national memorial for the most defining time in our nation’s history.  Students around the country are already conducting research on the individual lives of these soldiers, which are then uploaded and shared through an online, interactive map. This map indentifies every tree planted through a geotag, which allows visitors the opportunity to learn the name and story of the young man for whom the tree is planted, with photos, diary entries, and letters home also shared.  To date, over 300 students in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont have collected information on over 800 soldiers. Additionally, over 5,000 facts, images, and stories have been uploaded to the Honor Wall pages hosted by Ancestry.com’s affiliate site, Fold3.com.

The Living Legacy Teacher Seminar will be held 10:00-4:00 p.m. on December 7-8 at the National Sporting Library & Museum in Middleburg.  This free, two-day professional development seminar is being offered to any educator interested in bringing this groundbreaking curriculum and service-learning project to their students. Throughout this program, participating educators will receive in-depth training in genealogy research as led byAncestry.com experts and participate in stimulating discussion on the role, value, and implementation of service-learning curriculum.  Participants will also be the first to see, and provide feedback, on a new curriculum being developed, known as Living Legacy Tree Planting Project: A Teacher’s Guide to Engaging Students with the National Civil War Memorial, which will connect the social sciences to language arts, STEM, and GIS (geographic information system) standards of learning.

Attending teachers will receive a $350 stipend in return for their time and to help defray any travel and accommodation expenses.  Lunch will also be provided both days.  In return, all participating educators must commit to incorporating portions of the Living Legacy curriculum into their classrooms before the end of the current school year.

Two other teacher seminars have been held to date, including one hosted at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, which brought teachers together with industry leaders such as the Virginia Geographic Alliance and ESRI.  A second teacher seminar was held at Manassas National Battlefield in partnership with Ancestry.com experts.  The goal of the third seminar, which is funded in part by a grant from Ancestry, is to identify and train 30 teachers that will be able to engage an additional 2,000 students across the country.

National Sporting Library & Museum, courtesy of Visit Loudoun

National Sporting Library & Museum, courtesy of Visit Loudoun

The National Sporting Library & Museum, located within the heart of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, is conveniently located 20 miles from Dulles International Airport in Middleburg, Va.  To learn more about the National Sporting Library & Museum, visit www.nslm.org.  Teachers interested in registering for the seminar can visit www.hallowedground.org.

Celebrating 100 Years With Virginia’s Department of Forestry



When the colonists first arrived in Jamestown in 1607, Virginia was a land of vast forests.  And one of the first “products” shipped back to England was timber harvested from the land surrounding the settlement.  The Cherrybark Oak trees on Jamestown Island were excellent sources of lumber and wooden shingles that were desperately needed by the people of a growing city (London).  Over the course of the next 300 years, much of the forestland in Virginia was harvested to build homes in the “New World,” create sailing ships and to clear land for agricultural purposes.  Little, if any, replanting of trees was performed.

The Virginia Department of Forestry was created by Gov. Henry Stuart and the General Assembly in March of 1914.  Formed under the state Geologic Commission, the agency was charged with the suppression of wildfires and the reforestation of a nearly denuded Virginia – two core missions that still exist today.  Over the past 100 years, Virginia Department of Forestry employees have battled 150,000 wildfires that have burned more than 3 million acres of forestland, and they’ve grown and planted more than 2 billion trees.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Chapin Jones began work March 1, 1915 as the State Forester of Virginia.  He was not just the first employee at the new agency, he was the only employee.  He began his tenure by creating a series of informational posters designed to educate the citizenry on the dangers of wildfire and the importance of preventing them in the first place.  He expanded his duties the following year when he developed a tree nursery on land near the University of Virginia.  After “going it alone” for several years, he was able to hire a handful of people to help fight wildfires in the western portion of the state.  Over the next several decades, the VDOF grew slowly and steadily.  One nursery expanded to two, then to three, as the need for more tree seedlings grew.  The agency now has two nurseries – one in Sussex County that grows 27 million pine seedlings each year, and one in Augusta County that grows about 3 million hardwood seedlings annually.

While battling wildfires and reforestation work remain core functions, VDOF is also responsible for the quality of water through its efforts to ensure that timber harvest operations do not add sediment to streams, creeks and rivers.  The agency is also working hard to conserve forested landscapes and ensure working forests remain working forestlands.  Seven years ago, VDOF launched its Forestland Conservation Division.  In these few short years, the division has secured more than 100 conservation easements (legal agreements that forever protect the land from development while still being the property of the private owner of the land) that cover more than 30,000 acres of forestland.  VDOF also provides unbiased, scientifically-based forest management recommendations to ensure the 373,600 private forest landowners in Virginia meet their goals and objectives they have for their land.  The Virginia Department of Forestry oversees 24 State Forests that serve a number of purposes: timber resource, recreational opportunities (hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, horseback riding), ecosystem services (clean air and water), and aesthetics.  The forests range in size from just over 100 acres to nearly 20,000 acres and are located in most areas of Virginia.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the Virginia Department of Forestry, the agency has conducted a number of special events throughout the year.  These include partnering with the Virginia Lottery on a scratch-off game; working with the Virginia Department of Transportation to focus the content of the 2014-2016 state road map on the agency and its State Forests; an exhibit of VDOF firefighting vehicles at the Virginia Museum of Transportation; an exhibition of original paintings of Smokey Bear by artist Rudy Wendelin at The Chrysler Museum of Art; displays at four NASCAR race tracks, and participation in a number of parades and the State Fair of Virginia.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

As we near the end of the centennial year, the leaves are changing color and turning the vistas into sweeping palettes of scarlet, crimson and gold.  We encourage you to take a drive this month to enjoy this annual event.  There are ample opportunities to check out the beautiful fall foliage along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway.  You can learn more about peak periods and other information at www.dof.virginia.gov.  All of us at the Virginia Department of Forestry look forward to a second century of protecting and serving the citizens of the Commonwealth.

Celebrate National Apple Month With Us!



Fall’s crisp air and changing leaves evokes thoughts of steamy apple cider, warm, gooey apple dumplings and family frolics through orchards.  Luckily, for those of us living in and around Pennsylvania, there are countless opportunities to enjoy its orchards and apples. Even if you fancy apples in the fall, you may not realize Pennsylvania’s powerhouse status within the national and global apple industry. What better time to explore Pennsylvania and Eastern Apples than in October, which is celebrated as National Apple Month.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Pennsylvania is the fourth largest apple producing state in the nation—behind only Washington, Michigan and New York. The Pennsylvania apple crop typically yields between 10 and 11 million bushels annually, meaning the crop weighs in at more than 440 million pounds! As the state’s fourth largest commodity, apples are key to making agriculture Pennsylvania’s top industry. The state’s climate and topography, especially in the Fruit Belt of Adams County, provide the perfect growing conditions for more than 100 varieties of delicious apples. The rolling hills of Pennsylvania boast more than 20,000 acres of apple bearing land across all 67 of its counties. Each individual acre can produce an impressive 23,000 pounds of apples. Each and every one of those apples is carefully hand picked by a skilled workforce. Though apples are grown in every county, nearly 70% of Pennsylvania’s apples are grown in Adams County. Franklin, York and Bedford counties round out the top four apple producing counties in the state.

As home to Knouse Foods, one of the largest food processors in the country, it should come as no surprise that nearly 60% of Pennsylvania’s crop is used for processing into applesauce, juice, cider and more. Though only 30-35% of PA apples are used for the fresh market, 70% of the total national apple crop goes for fresh market and only 30% is used for processing. Some of those processing apples are now hitting the press with fermentation as their final destination. The time-honored craft of making hard cider is having a resurgence in Pennsylvania with close to 20 producers in the state, some of which are grower-producers, and many of whom are returning to traditional craft practices using cider apple varieties for a product with a sharper taste and dryer finish.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Cider apple varieties make up only a tiny portion of the portfolio of apples grown in Pennsylvania. With more than 100 delicious varietal options, it’s easy to find one pleasing to the palate. There are about 20 commercial varieties grown by most growers that are easy to find at your local grocer. Gala and Fuji are among the most popular varieties in PA, with Honeycrisp quickly edging out other tried-and-true favorites like Red Delicious. Pennsylvania’s harvest season begins in mid-August with early varieties like Ginger Gold, a mellow, great all-purpose apple and continues through to mid-November with the tangy Pink Lady being one of the last fresh varieties to be harvested. The heart of the harvest season is late September through mid-October when most commercial varieties are carefully plucked from the trees. Golden Delicious, Cameo, Jonagold, Cortland, McIntosh, Idared and Granny Smith represent only a handful of varieties that reach perfect ripeness during that harvest window. Be sure to explore varieties beyond the classic favorites. Farm stands and farmer markets grow and sell countless varieties with varying flavor profiles and textural differences to suit the most discerning apple fan. Newer varieties names like Zestar and Autumn Crisp may placard bushels while resting next to unfamiliar heirloom or vintage varieties like Smokehouse and Winter Banana.

Though Pennsylvania’s apple harvest occurs over the span of approximately twelve weeks, Pennsylvania and Eastern apples can be found and enjoyed nearly year round. Pennsylvania growers and shippers use some of the most advanced cold storage practices making it possible for you to enjoy fresh, crisp Pennsylvania and Eastern apples well into Spring and beyond. In some cases, certain varieties like Red and Golden Delicious can be found just about up until the next harvest begins. Apples can and should be enjoyed and worked into your favorites dishes year round.

To learn more about Pennsylvania and Eastern apples, where to find them, how to use them and more, visit: PennsylvaniaApples.org.

America’s Wine Country Enhances the Journey Through Hallowed Ground



Photo courtesy of Barrel Oak Winery

Photo courtesy of Barrel Oak Winery

Something new is vinting in Virginia’s wine country. It’s called “Virginia’s Piedmont: America’s Wine Country”. This regional assembly of 11 counties stretches from Warren, Fauquier and Loudoun in the north to Albemarle in the south. The thrill of the wine life is now merged with America’s hallowed ground.

The wine country of Virginia follows the same trajectory as its historic antecedents: the world is rediscovering Virginia as a land of intense beauty and intense vintages. The land of President Jefferson is also the land of Thomas Jefferson: world’s leading oenophile. The land of Justice John Marshall is the land of Justice Marshall: grand lover of Madera.

Photo courtesy of Barrel Oak Winery

 

Today, John Marshall’s estate is a winery.

Today, a winery sits at the battle site of Bull Run.

 

It may take years for the world to fully discover both the history and the great vintages of Virginia; but together, the Journey and America’s Wine Country promise the opportunity to bring Virginia back to the world stage as one of the great historic and wine regions of the world.

Photo courtesy of Barrel Oak Winery

Do Family Farms Still Matter?



In 1996, fresh out of college, I dreamed of returning to my family’s farm and becoming a farmer. After decades of eroding cattle prices, our Shenandoah Valley farm was barely hanging on. My parents had almost given up, taking jobs in the city just to keep the bills paid. I would be the seventh generation to work the land, dating back to the American Revolution, and took it upon myself to keep the farm alive.

As my friends headed off to graduate school, I pointed my dusty pickup toward the farm. My college advisors shook their heads with well-meaning disapproval. “Go ahead,” they admonished. “Get your hands dirty for a few months. But when you’re ready to decide on a career, the real world will be waiting for you.”

But this is the real world, I insisted. It’s a world of sunshine and rain. It’s a world of physical toil and sweat, and the sweet satisfaction of nurturing life from the earth. After a few weeks back on the farm, I was sunburned and filthy… and utterly blissful. Most importantly, I was certain that I had made the right decision.

cattle

I projected our bills for the coming winter, and knew that we needed ten thousand dollars in the bank to carry us into spring. That summer, we planted the farm with corn and soybeans, abandoning our traditional cow pastures for the quicker financial return of grain. The meadows were killed off with herbicide, and the rolling hills cultivated.

In October, trucks whisked away our glittering corn and soy. I was so proud of what we had accomplished: We had saved our family farm. Later that week, I received our paycheck and tore open the envelope.

Staring at the check, I felt my knees buckle. The harvest hadn’t brought in ten thousand dollars. It hadn’t even cleared a thousand. After expenses, five truckloads of grain had made us a profit of eighteen dollars and sixteen cents.

How could this be? How could so much corn bring in such a pittance? Humiliated, furious, I nearly tore the paycheck into bits. At that instant, I realized how utterly broken our family farm was. I made up my mind that, somehow, we were going to fix it.

Seventeen years later, after triumphs and heartbreaks, our farm is stronger than ever. We now raise organic, grass-fed meats, and sell our free-range eggs at bustling Washington, DC farmers markets. Each weekend, I personally interact with hundreds of customers, answering questions and educating about our farming practices. Decades of debt is finally paid off. From where I stand, the future of farming has never looked so bright.

pigs

But our farm’s story remains the exception more than the rule. Today, high-yield industrial agriculture dominates the field. Only 1% of the country still lives on a farm, down from 50% just two generations before. If we’re going to save more family farms, we must rewrite the old story, and do it quickly.

It’s time to ask ourselves: What do we value? Do we believe in transparent farming practices, humane treatment of animals, and providing our producers a living wage? It’s easy to sit in ivory towers, dismissing these issues as glorified talking points. But when you’ve stood on your family’s farmhouse porch, and are handed eighteen dollars for an entire year’s worth of work, you begin to understand how truly desperate the situation can be.

People are ready for their farmers to become heroes. Who can blame them? The world needs heroes, those who believe in something greater than themselves. A new wave of farmers can live up to these ideals, and sustainable agriculture can be the story of our time. The shopping choices we make today have the power to alter the landscape for generations to follow.

chickens

 

The book about our farm, Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm, was named a Top Read by The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and NPR’s The Splendid Table. Click HERE.

The Founding Father Who Was Almost Forgotten



Sixty years ago, John Marshall was as well-known as Lucille Ball. Schools took his name, and absorbed his judicial accomplishments into their curricula.

Then, something happened. In the swirl of history, Marshall’s presence was diluted. Now, most people either have never heard of him, or, they mistake him for General George Marshall.

John Marshall Home

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

John Marshall was the equivalent of a Founding Father with a variegated career of public service. George Washington influenced him to become a Virginia congressman; after that, he was a diplomat, secretary of state, and John Adams’s choice for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: a tenure that would last 34 years, the longest in history.

Written for children, American Hero: John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States was a collaboration with my mother. It was commissioned by The John Marshall Foundation in Richmond to raise Marshall’s public profile.

When he became Chief Justice in 1801, the Court met only a few days per year. That was how Marshall’s cousin Thomas Jefferson, who loathed him, wanted it.

But Marshall had other ideas for the trajectory of the Court… and democracy.

John Marshall Statue

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

And so, by the time of his death in 1835, the Court had a pro rata share of power and influence, equivalent to the Executive and Legislative branches of government. Marshall had also honed the judiciary into a prototype of justice that was revered and replicated all over the world.

American Hero: John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States
by David Bruce Smith; illustrations by Clarice Smith
Belle Isle Books
Book Available for Purchase at www.hallowedground.org.

Celebrate Constitution Day



The average lifespan of a modern constitution is 17 years. By contrast, the U.S. Constitution has lasted 227 years since its signing on September 17, 1787. We have the oldest still in effect constitution in the world.

Today on National Constitution Day, we honor James Madison, Father of the Constitution and Architect of the Bills of Rights, for his leadership in the Constitution’s creation. The individual freedoms and rights we enjoy today are direct reflections of Madison’s tireless work and vision.

Photo courtesy of The Montpelier Foundation.

Photo courtesy of The Montpelier Foundation.

These ideas, the framework that became the U.S. Constitution, emerged from Montpelier, Madison’s lifelong home located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along this corridor that is part of the Journey through Hallowed Ground. Imagine the 35-year-old Madison, a committed patriot dedicated to the ideals of the Revolution. He spends months at Montpelier reading about ancient republics and confederacies, trying to glean why they failed, and what America could do differently to succeed. While the thirteen colonies had won their independence from England, the emerging young nation could not function under the Articles of Confederation. Madison recognized this dilemma and developed the plan for addressing America’s ills.

Madison and the other founders, who were part of that hot, summertime debate in Philadelphia we now call the Constitutional Convention, are presented to us sometimes today like demigods—due with good reason to the ideological enlightenment that guided their discourse, friendships, and politics. It was this intellectual foundation that fashioned a linchpin in the axles of liberty and allowed the young United States to move from an experiment to the great country we know today.

However, it would be naïve to claim that our liberty, then and now, has been easy. After all, the Constitution was written “to form a more perfect union.” It was not perfect when created, and while it has become “more perfect” over the past two centuries, changes have often been hard won through petition and protest. We cannot ignore that a truly representative system of government was not achieved until women and African Americans entered the voting booths in more modern history.

Nevertheless, with only 27 amendments, the Constitution has proven its ability to withstand the test of time. It is the Constitution that binds us together as Americans—not where we are from, the color of our skin, or our religion.

The many voices and opinions found in today’s debates seem like fuel for anarchy. Yet time and again, out of those many opinions comes one voice—one people, under one Constitution and one rule of law—which continues to be heard as distinctly American.

The United States of America is an example to the world that a free people can indeed govern themselves. But, power demands responsibility. If we want to pass on liberty to future generations, we must ensure that each generation understands the roles and responsibilities of American citizens, including how our government works. To quote Madison “The people will have the virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom…So that we do not put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.”

James Madison’s Montpelier is rooted in this far-reaching vision and a deep commitment to the ideals of the Constitution. We invite you to join us for a visit to learn more about James Madison and his vision of America. Happy Constitution Day.

Rowe, courtesy of The Montpelier Foundation.

Photo courtesy of Kenton Rowe and The Montpelier Foundation.

Student Engagement with the Living Legacy Tree Planting Project



The Living Legacy Tree Planting Project is a massive undertaking that the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership launched in 2010. By planting one tree for each of the 620,000 fallen Civil War soldiers, we will be creating the first national memorial for the most defining time in our nation’s history. Though the planting of such a large number of trees is monumental in its own right, from my perspective the most looming aspect of this project includes our educational outreach initiatives.

From the outset, we knew that this memorial needed to honor each of the fallen as an individual—what better way to do that, we thought, than by encouraging students around the country to research the soldiers’ lives and share them with the world on an interactive map? Through a collaborative relationship with Ancestry.com and Fold3.com, we are working with youth as they use primary source documents to examine soldiers from their own communities. By learning about these men, history—both local and national—comes alive for the participating researchers. As they get to know “their” soldier, students make connections between their lives and those that came before them, ultimately allowing them to understand that this war impacted every single American.

This hands-on, student-driven approach to education has been proven to be one of the most effective and life-changing ways to teach. Students working on similar projects frequently see an increase in test scores, become more civically engaged as adults, and associate themselves as lifelong learners. To date, we have partnered with over 300 students in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont in the gathering of information on nearly 800 soldiers. Additionally, over 5,000 facts, images, and stories have been uploaded to Honor Wall pages hosted by Ancestry.com’s affiliate site, Fold3.com.

IMG_8024

Thanks to a grant awarded by the Virginia Geographic Alliance, we were able to convene numerous teachers and professors from around the state, along with industry leaders like ESRI, to a summit last October hosted at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. During this meeting, we worked to identify some of the specific needs the education component of Living Legacy must address, including geo-literacy and introductory GIS-skills. Though many of the professors were skeptical about our intentions, they all commented on how impressive it was to hear that many teachers are already successfully incorporating GIS (geographic information systems) into their elementary classrooms. From this summit, the first batch of student researchers were born, many of whom attended our planting ceremony at the historic Bliss Farm in Gettysburg National Military Park to see “their” soldiers’ tree.

Following the teacher summit and successful round of initial student research, we teamed up with Ancestry.com and Fold3.com to offer a teacher professional development seminar in January 2014, led by Senior Directors Brock Bierman and Gordon Atkinson and Genealogist Amy Johnson Crow. During this daylong session, participants learned genealogy research best practices and ways to engage their students in Living Legacy soldier research.

IMG_2246Using these experiences as a launch pad, last week we were awarded funds from Ancestry.com to develop a standardized curriculum. Known as Living Legacy In a Box, this material will be designed specifically to connect primary source-based genealogy research and local history to other subject areas, such as geography, STEM, and the language arts. During the pilot stage of implementing Living Legacy In a Box, we aim to reach 30 teachers around the country, with a target of 2,000 student researchers. If you are interested in bringing this groundbreaking program to your school, let us know. It has been an incredible start to this amazing living memorial project and I am eager to bring it to more schools, more teachers, and more students over the next couple of months.

The 30th Anniversary of the National Heritage Area Program



Sunday, August 24th marked the 30th creation of the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, which was signed into law by President Reagan in 1984.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.

The National Heritage Area (NHA) Program serves as a public-private partnership for the stories that are too large, or perhaps too complicated, for the National Park Service to tell. Take The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area for example, which was created as the 38th Area in the country and signed into law by President Bush in 2008. Within this 180-mile swath of land, we can tell more stories than any single park would be able to by linking several parks and the surrounding communities together and filling in the gaps in interpretation with inclusive stories about those who have lived here and helped shape the American (and local) character. We can tell a large portion of the story of the Civil War, but we also link nine Presidential sites, portions of the Underground Railroad, and the house where the Marshall Plan was written, to name just a few. Each of these sites are important in their own right, but together, they create a rich fabric that helps visitors and locals alike understand the unique history of this region.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.

The National Heritage Area designation is founded on two core principals – heritage tourism and education, both of which are essential to our organization’s mission. Through immersive, award-winning educational programs, we reach students of all ages to create future stewards of these national treasures. Through the Certified Tourism Ambassador Training program, we train frontline hospitality workers to turn ordinary visitor experiences into something truly extraordinary.

Although the federal budget for the NHA program has been cut over the years, it is obvious that this is still a program the public supports – it offers a solution to communities who see a need for preservation to work together and feel a sense of ownership over an important landscape. Each of the 49 National Heritage Areas currently in existence tells some portion of our American story, which is what the National Heritage Area program is all about: nationally significant large landscapes that are still living, breathing pieces of Americana.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.

The 30 years since the first National Heritage Area was designated have given us a lot to be thankful for – most especially that these regions are receiving recognition and now have a hope of being preserved for our children, and our children’s children. As the budget cuts loom again and more NHA’s are being designated, it is also important to look at how we are growing as a group. It is clear the program still has a lot to do to ensure the models we are creating for the program today are sustainable for the National Heritage Areas of the future.