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RBC I Youth is very much a vital part of the Rio Blanco County Historical Society. Even though senior adults make up the largest percentage of the membership, young people are closely tied to many programs, outreaches and efforts.
The 50-plus group gives RBCHS the foundation to connect roots, but the younger generation provides the life blood and reason to carry the cultural heritage forward.
Two years ago, when RBCHS launched its Pennies Plus Project, placing coffee cans all over town to be filled with pennies and other change to pay off the “This is What I Remember” book loan, a very young citizen in town, Sarah Rose Welle, began diligently soliciting pennies to help the organization meet its goal. Her consistent donation trips to the museum earned her a celebrated walk to the bank to deposit a wagon full of change, with police escort and all. She was also awarded a Junior Ambassador certificate at the following quarterly meeting. And the entire organization had glowing accolades for her and many others who helped us get completely out of debt.
One of the trends in the past three years has been the historic presentations that have been open to the public. Many of these are performed with the assistance of area young people to showcase area heritage.
One such highlight was the Honoring Our Military presentation where five young men, junior high through high school, wore the uniforms of our veterans and portrayed these esteemed soldiers. This same group also visited the Walbridge Wing with the RBCHS to present a patriotic program.
The young people in the Meeker Arts and Culture Council have added their talent several times and were enthusiastically applauded for their skits in the Rural School Days presentation, showcasing three school teacher romances recorded in Rio Blanco County history.
Each year at Range Call and the 4th of July celebration, the historical society re-enacts the legendary bank robbery of 1896. A large group of the actors are young characters. Taking their role very seriously, they dress in period costume and help the adults act out the scenes of that eventful day.
In the summer, RBCHS hosts a History Camp at the museum in partnership with the ERBM Recreation District. This camp, “History In Your Own Backyard,” has provided numerous heritage experiences for our younger generations to learn about ranching, pioneer life, rural schools, the wilderness, homestead living and our historic landmarks.
The RBCHS aspires to form a Youth Venturing Program this year, a subsidiary of the Scouts. One of the lines in the Venturing Code is: “I will treasure my American heritage and will do all I can to preserve and enrich it.” Through this intern program, the historical society hopes to engage local youth in research, docent activities and historic education to do just that.
The RBCHS is always indebted to the youth volunteers who take time from their busy lives to help the organization in fundraising efforts, museum organization, media projects, historic site restoration and just about anything that requires abundant energy.
Definitely to be mentioned, the RBCHS Board of Directors has young blood. Even though the dedicated board also boasts of long-time experience, it has younger descendants of pioneers on the board as well, carrying the torch, faithfully involved in all aspects of the organization.
While the quarterly meetings may be attended with more gray hair than not, the life blood of the younger generation is very much involved.
This coming year, the board hopes to continue increasing the involvement of the younger generation to join ranks in “Preserving the Past for our Future.” After all, the young blood is the future.