The Independent Selection Panel created the NRTA With Our Youth! Dedication Award to highlight the top contenders who merited distinction for their exceptional work. These awards serve as “honorable mentions.”
2014 Dedication Award recipients include:
Pennsylvania — Bradford/Sullivan Chapter
For so many children past and present, the book Farmer Boy by the beloved author Laura Ingalls Wilder offers a glimpse into the way that youth and families once worked on farms. The Bradford County Heritage Association has brought the book to life with a new event, Farm Days 1866. Volunteers with the Bradford/Sullivan Chapter of the Pennsylvania Retired Educators Association have been instrumental in getting this new, innovative educational initiative up and running.
Farm Days 1866 is a two-day program available to all public, private and home-schooled fourth-grade students in Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga counties. Student participants first read Farmer Boy, then go back in time at the Bradford County Heritage Village to experience America’s rural heritage.
Some 75 adult volunteers — mostly retired educators — escort the students through various stations to provide hands-on learning about post-Civil War rural life. The students experience blacksmithing, quilting, spinning wool, making food, handling farm animals and learning in a one-room schoolhouse. Students also gain communication skills by making presentations about what they’ve learned and by conducting interviews with the news media about their experience. It is truly a unique way to take children back in time to really understand history.
This new interactive history lesson has the added benefit of spurring multigenerational interactions with retirees, teachers, chaperones and students. It also has helped build awareness of the museum, thereby increasing membership, financial contributions and artifact donations.
Retired educators understand the value of history and are proud to be part of an initiative to educate youth about the heritage of farm life in Bradford County. They are helping youth to understand where the kids come from and what they’re about.
Wisconsin — Nancy H. Kemmeter
The only thing better than a good book is a good used book sale. Adult bibliophiles can gather even more books at a good price to overindulge their passion for reading — and at the same time young children are exposed to the excitement of books. There is one Wisconsin used book sale run by retired teachers that is especially important, because the proceeds help fund critical community projects.
The Stevens Point Area Retired Teachers’ Association (SPARTA) located in central Wisconsin has held a successful book sale for the past 23 years. Retired teacher Nancy Kemmeter, a member of the SPARTA Book Committee, has taken the book sale to a whole new level.
In 2012, Nancy took on the role of committee co-chair. In this role, she coordinates retired educators to secure book donations and to run the three-day sale that occurs twice per year.
First, Nancy went to work to recruit more committee members. With more volunteers, she was able to take an important step to identify higher value books and adjust the pricing. The more popular books were placed in a new area called the “Collector’s Corner” and priced as high as $10, while other books were priced at just a dollar.
Nancy also reorganized and streamlined the book donation process. Instead of sending volunteers to pick up the books, she organized a donor drop-off at the site of the sale to save time. She also organized volunteers to sort the children’s books by grade level so that it would be easier for customers to find just the right book for their children.
As a result of Nancy’s creative thinking, sales increased by a whopping 56 percent between 2013 and 2014. Now, more books are recycled throughout the community, and SPARTA has even more funds to donate to more than 30 community organizations — from the family crisis center to the children’s museum.
Working with her team of fellow retired teachers, Nancy is promoting reading across the community and raising money for other important community projects funded by SPARTA. Not only did Nancy step up to take a leadership role at SPARTA, she brought strategic thinking and action to further strengthen the organization’s community contribution. Now that’s a good story.