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David Grabitske

David Grabitske is the manager of outreach services at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

At the Martin County Historical Society, our programming consists of PowerPoint presentations during the summmer months on various topics and school tours. We are now looking to expand on our current programming to potentially year round adult and youth programming. Our PowerPoints usually bring in a dozen or more people on the average. I’m thinking that the idea of “if you build it, they will come” could fit well into developing programming. In a strategic planning questionnaire, we asked our members to tell us what they’d like to see at our facility. The list included how-to workshops, guest speakers, summer youth/adult programs, holiday/festivel celebrations, and other.

My question is: what types of programming do other organizations offer? Are they well attended? Do you offer these programs (youth or adult) year round or just seasonally? What ideas have you tried in the past that did not pan out?

Dustin Heckman

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2 Responses to Program Draws

  1. Hi Dustin,

    At CCHS, we try to offer programs that will attract a variety of age groups. We focus on family learning but also are part of a history roundtable with Scott County HS and The Landing that offers monthly adult eduction programs. CCHS offers quarterly family day trips, children’s days, summer day camps, tours, and guest speakers throughout the year. This summer we even did a family camping trip. These events are usually attended by 25-40 people and are offered year-round.

    In terms of school programs, we offer an interactive program for each grade level and voluntarily comply with state education standards. We allow teachers to book down (i.e. a 3rd grade teacher can book a 1st grade program with the understanding that their students may have seen the program before) but teachers cannot book up (one of the biggest complaints I hear from teachers is that by the time kids hit upper elementary, they’ve seen all the speakers and visited all the places that would be relevant). We also use these programs for museum visits from Boy and Girl Scout troops, 4H clubs, and homeschool groups.

    Best of luck with your new programs,


  2. Dustin: There are a ton of things that you can be doing (resources permitting). Talks by authors are easy, cheap, and can be well attended. You can hardly go wrong doing a workshop on caring for heirlooms (MHS offers these across the state). To build on what Erin says about working with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, leaders of Cub Scouts and Daisies and Brownies are always looking for programming opportunities. This can be as simple as a little community history tour with hands-on project, or as elaborate as offering badges, patches, or other projects that can get the kids advancement or additional swag for their uniforms. Boy Scout and Girl Scout handbooks are easy to find and buy, and there are some websites that give you merit badge requirements, so you don’t have to buy anthing.

    As a historical society, you can also do things out in your community, as Erin has suggested. I love walking tours of historic neighborhoods with an architectural historian who can describe the buildings and/or local historian who can tell some of the stories.

    I would suggest that you visit some of the county historical society websites from around the state and STEAL FROM THEM. There are all sorts of great, great, great programs going on right close by.

    Good luck.


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