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Artist and historian Steve Stark presents an interactive, live-drawn presentation on local history to students at Ulen-Hitterdal schools.

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Bringing local history to life in Rural Minnesota

February 05, 2018

Notable American rural writer Wendell Berry once said, "if you don't know where you're from, you'll have a hard time saying where you're going." Mark Hemberger, Social Studies teacher at Ulen-Hitterdal Public Schools knows the value of this statement. Hemberger collaborated with the school's grant writer, Therese Vogel, as well as the local Ulen Museum for this 2017-18 Grants in Place award. The project, made possible with funds from West Central Initiative and Rural Schools Collaborative, helped students learn about their town's history in an incredibly interactive way.

On January 30, artist and historian Steve Stark came to the school to conduct a presentation on the history of Minnesota's Red River Valley. His topics included the creation of glacial Lake Agassiz, Native Americans, fur trade, Metis people, Red River Ox Carts, steamboats on the Red River, and the coming of the Northern Pacific Railroad leading to settlement and agriculture. Stark engages his audiences in history with a variety of media: he not only sketches an illustrated timeline during his presentation, he also shares the narrative as he draws -- an impressive feat! Stark's presentation was free and open to local community members to attend.

Many thanks to our Grants in Place funding partners at West Central Initiative of Minnesota, and to the Clay County Union newspaper for their coverage of the grant and presentation.



The 2017 Grants in Place program included more than twenty funders and individual donors who came together to invest $135,000 in rural place-based student-centered projects. Funding was provided for 35 projects serving 45 communities in 11 different states.

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