In 2016, the Entrada Institute received a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant titled Sparking Humanities Conversations. As project director, Annette Lamb’s goal was to promote conversations surrounding local cultural heritage themes.
Our primary partner for the project was USU Extension/4H. However many other organizations have participated over the years including Capitol Reef National Park, U.S. Forest Service, Wayne Schools, Wayne County FFA, and Utah DNR.
4-H Teen Leader CJ Torgerson volunteered early in the process to coordinate activities with USU Extension/4H. Torgerson was recently named an Utah 4-H Southern Region Ambassador. Since then, many 4-H Teen Leaders and youth have participated in the program.
Over the three years of the project, we’ve explored 18 cultural heritage themes. For each theme, we offered after school programs culminating in a community dinner from January through May. During the COVID-19 crisis, the project provided over 1000 take-home family challenge kits coordinated by USU Extension/4H and distributed by Royals.
The SparkSquad 4-H At-Home Kits program has extended into the summer. Youth across the county are currently participating in sewing, pottery, and gardening projects. For instance, Loa resident Ruger Grundy recently transplanted his sunflower and pumpkin seedlings in his outdoor garden as part of the FFA, 4-H, SparkSquad program.
While the SparkSquad projects are winding down, two other aspects of the grant project are just gearing up. The NEH grant will provide hardware, software, and resources to support local story preservation and programming at a distance.
As part of the project, elderly community members from founding families throughout Wayne County will be interviewed to chronicle local history. In addition, we’ll hold live streaming events to involve participants both inside and outside the county in these conversations. If you know of someone who you’d like to involve in this oral history project, contact Don Gomes or Annette Lamb.
The final element of the project extends Entrada Institute summer and fall programming online. With ongoing concerns about social distancing, this season’s Entrada Institute programming will include a blend of limited face-to-face and online opportunities for participation.
The NEH Sparking Humanities project is made possible through a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Entrada Institute and Wayne County USU Extension. LIKE us at facebook.com/sparkinghumanities. – Annette Lamb
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