A Learning Experience–It’s a Process- Kristian Enbysk

Hey y’all! It’s been a minute since the last update. That tells you how busy I have been and all the activities going on here at Homestead. It has been an eventful few weeks at the park from getting settled in, meeting new people, and to learning the different aspects that go into working at a national park.

Homestead National Historical Park Staff, Training Week 2021

Since the last time I posted, I have experienced some pretty interesting things. First, at the beginning of the month all staff had to participate in the annual employee training. This is a three-day session filled with all kinds of information in hopes to provide the staff necessary knowledge of running the park for a better visitor experience and refresh on procedures of safety and unplanned events. The training kicked off with a history of the park, presentations on the different services the park provides, and getting a in-depth view of what each park division (Ranger, Maintenance, and Admin) does. We also learned safety protocols like what to do in the case of fire, storms, and various threats. I even got to extinguish a fire in a practice session! During the Ranger Division session on Cultural Resources, Jonathan Fairchild, Historian, demonstrated the ways to finding Homestead case files. For example purposes, we entered my family name on my father’s side and to our luck we got a hit! We found the land patent for my 2nd great granduncle’s, Jacob Enbusk, homestead claim in Oregon back from 1904. All in all, the training was very insightful and got the chance to make some fun memories with all the staff at hand.

My 2nd great granduncle’s land patent, 1904

After the training I went back to working on my projects. For the last three weeks I had been organizing the Dempster Oral History Project conducted in 2015-2016. This project detailed accounts of former employees of the Dempster Mill Manufacturing Company based in Beatrice. Some of the interviews were conducted by previous LHIP intern, Lissette Ocampo, during their time here. The process to organizing and creating the Dempster finding aid was interesting. Many would assume that it would be quick, but with legal paperwork and recordings of interviews to input into the hard drives, the process prolonged. In order to add this project to the collection, the park must have legal release forms to use the interview. So many times we would find ourselves searching for those releases, but in the end I completed my first finding aid! I am now working on my second finding aid and organizing oral histories from the park’s Montana Homesteader Project 2004.

Along with being in the office working on finding aids, I got the chance to assist with putting up a new exhibit in the Heritage Center. This exhibit focuses on the park’s Artist-in-Residence program, a two-week program that provides an artist to contribute their work to the park. The collection includes poems, painting, and photography by previous artists. Speaking of artists, the park introduced the first artist-in-residence of the summer, Sarah McCartt Jackson, a poet from Kentucky. She came and lived with my roommate and I at the park for a couple of weeks and contributed a poem.

Inside Freeman School, restored to 1870s time period

Finally, I was given the chance to help with visitor services at the Freeman School solo. There I interpreted the history of the school (one of the longest-running one room schoolhouses in Nebraska), provided insight for park visitors, and entertained visitors with children on playing some of the games schoolchildren played during the Homestead era like hoop rolling, rolling a hoop on the ground with.a stick. Also to close out my week, I stepped out of the office once again and helped the Natural Resources division with their mussel survey of Cub Creek. Here, I geared up and entered the creek and dug into the sand to find mussels entrenched in the creek. Overall, it was a really neat experience! Until next time, thanks for reading! Back to work!

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