The Geary County Historical Museum is down to one full-time staff member in the form of Heather Hagedorn, but hands-on history — a monthly lesson for area homeschool students — still went on.
President of the Geary County Historical Society Board Ferrell Miller was present at the lesson.
“Heather is actually doing three jobs at this point,” Miller said.
He said the hands-on history program used to be done by a programs director which the museum no longer has the budget for.
“Heather has taken that on,” Miller said. “She’s picked up the slack and done a great job and so we’re able to keep the program going.”
The hands-on history group meets the first Wednesday of every month. The group learned about pioneer children’s chores at the most recent lesson. The group made butter, did laundry by hand — complete with hauling buckets of water — and took part in a relay race where they had to milk “cows” while avoiding stepping in “cow patties.”
“The value really comes in having it be a hands-on event,” Hagedorn said. “It’s not just listening to someone tell you what laundry was like, but actually getting in there and scrubbing the clothes. I think it makes it a little more engaging — a little more fun. It’s something to look forward to and they can really appreciate what that experience might have been like.”
Homeschool parents Erin Eskew and Amanda Combs are both new to the community. They each have four sons, all of whom came to hands-on history on the museum lawn the morning of Sept. 1. This was their first time doing the program.
“I think it’s really great for them to actually get a chance to interact with the subjects that we study,” Eskew said. “We’ll talk about how things were different before. The kids help out with chores at the house and it’s really fun for them to get to see first-hand how things used to be.”
The group made butter — something Eskew’s children have done at home themselves — and Eskew felt it was nice to have the history lesson to go along with it. Hand washing clothes was a new experience for her sons.
“I thought that was a neat thing for them to try,” Eskew said.
“I love when we can get the kids outside to interact with other children,” Combs said. “It just gives them some perspective just to compare — like Erin said — the chores of today as to what they used to look like.”
They both said they plan to bring their children to future lessons.
“We were very impressed,” Eskew said.
“It was a great day,” Combs said. “I really appreciate everyone willing to come out and just do this — and especially as a free resource for the community.”