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Getting Things Done For Ohio

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Rebeccah Verhoff-Kiss, Outreach & Education Officer, ServeOhio

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Ohio History Corps Engages Youth

“Since I graduated with my M.A. in August of 2016, I have incorporated my knowledge and skills in museum preservation and exhibition with public outreach as part of my service with AmeriCorps’ ServeOhio program.  As a Local History AmeriCorps Member at Youngstown State University, I have led and coordinated various workshops for smaller institutions, connecting them with professionals specializing in various museum positions, from grant writing to collections care. I have organized eight programs, called “ToolBox Workshops,” with a total of 35 organizations served.

I was also given the chance to supervise the annual V.W. Starr History Across the Humanities conference (HATH), a student run, two-day conference held at YSU’s Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor. While I directed students with the logistics behind running a conference, I also managed the marketing and communications of the event to ensure that we increase last year’s attendance. This year, HATH welcomed students from 18 universities and “humanities” professionals from 14 different institutions.

However, my favorite project from the past two years has been coordinating the Northeast Region’s Ohio History Day—a national program that was started in the city of Cleveland. I spent the past year visiting classrooms and speaking to teachers in Region 4 (Northeast Ohio) about this year-long academic program. National History Day allows students from sixth to 12th grade to delve into historical research, interpretation and creative expression. This was a very special project to me, since I am a product of Ohio History Day—I competed from middle school until high school. For 42 years, YSU annually welcomes almost 300 students with varying projects, such as documentaries, exhibits, and even plays, all competing to go to states. I look at the students and think, “these are future historians, thinkers, and community changers.”

I always think back to how much History Day has influenced my life and, in this particular aspect of my service, all I want is to create a meaningful experience for the students, their parents, and their teachers. Emphasizing that fun and creativity exists in the realm of historical research and that it is not about just learning about the past—but how it molds the present. Ohio History Day for Region 4 was held on Saturday, April 7, at Youngstown State University. We welcomed 257 students, plus their family and their teachers. I went through all three of our buildings that house various categories and could not help but feel such pride and hope for the field. I was surrounded by young historians, all enthusiastic (and somewhat nervous) to present their work. I hope they continue to inspire others with their work and creativity, not just in history but also in many other ways.

National History Day states that the completion is “not just a day but an experience.” It is an experience…not just for the students, but for all of us involved as well.”

-M. Carmella Cadusale

Ohio History Corps

Local History AmeriCorps Member

Youngstown State University

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