October 15, 2012

National Youth Summit: Dust Bowl

The Smithsonian and the National Endowment for the Humanities examine the legacy of the Dust Bowl era through current issues of drought, agricultural sustainability and global food security during a live, interactive discussion with experts. The program will be webcast from the museum to Youth Town Halls at locations across the nation Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. EDT.

In the 1930s, severe drought and extensive farming caused widespread agricultural damage, crop failure and human misery across the Great Plains. Called the “Dust Bowl” because of the immense dust storms created as the dry soil blew away in large, dark clouds, it is considered one of the worst ecological disasters in American history. Millions of acres of farmland were damaged and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes. Many migrated to California and other western states where the economic conditions during the Great Depression were often no better than those they had left.

The Oct. 17 discussion in Washington, D.C., taking place in the Warner Bros. Theater at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, will be joined by audiences at nine Smithsonian Affiliate museums and the National Steinbeck Center, which will also host regional Youth Town Halls. Participants at the regional Town Hall sites will prerecord questions on video to be played during the live National Youth Summit webcast. The Youth Town Halls will take place at:

The live webcast is available to educators and students through free registration at americanhistory.si.edu/nys. 

The National Youth Summit brings middle and high school students together with scholars, teachers, policy experts, witnesses to history and activists in a national conversation about important events in America’s past that have relevance to the nation’s present and future. The program is an ongoing collaboration between the National Museum of American History, the National Endowment for the Humanities, PBS and museums across the United States in the Smithsonian Affiliations network.

The summit will include segments from award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns’ forthcoming film The Dust Bowl and a panel discussion, moderated by Huffington Post science editor Cara Santa Maria, and featuring: Ken Burns, Dust Bowl survivor Cal Crabill, U.S. Department of Agriculture ecologist Debra Peters, fifth-generation farmer Roy Bardole from Rippey, Iowa, and farmer and founder of Anson Mills, Glenn Roberts. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will welcome the audience through a video statement. Panelists will take questions from students participating in the summit, and offer their own perspectives on what history can teach people about their relationship with the environment.

Programming for the National Youth Summit on the Dust Bowl is produced by the National Museum of American History and the National Endowment for the Humanities in partnership with Smithsonian Affiliations and PBS/WETA.

Smithsonian Affiliations collaborates with museums and educational organizations to share the Smithsonian with people in their own communities and create lasting experiences that broaden perspectives on science, history, world cultures and the arts. More information about Smithsonian Affiliations is available here.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent federal agency created in 1965.  It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television and radio stations, and to individual scholars. For more information on the NEH, visit http://www.neh.gov/.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. To learn more about the museum, check americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

April 25, 2012

New National Youth Summit

Building on the success of the National Youth Summit: 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides program in 2011, Affiliates will again be invited to partner with the National Endowment for the Humanities, PBS, and National Museum of American History.  Scheduled for October 15th, the next Youth Summit coincides with the broadcast of Ken Burns’ documentary, “The Dust Bowl” and will include Affiliates as the locations for funded programming and interactive conversations about this historic event.  (Affiliate partners will be able to apply for $5000 grants to support programs!) 

Considered one of the worst man-made ecological disasters in American history, environmental issues are detailed in the new documentary and are relevant to us today in unexpected ways.  Smithsonian and Affiliate programming will focus on the question of individual freedom versus the common good, an ongoing tension in our democracy. 

In the coming weeks, watch for more information about applying for funds to host a “viewing party” and complementary programming for the webcast, originating at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.  Ten Affiliates will be asked to pair with their local PBS station for help with technology.  The Affiliates will host middle school students, tape their questions, and make them available to a panel in Washington for discussion. Affiliates are also encouraged to conduct locally-specific programming of their own to explore how the topic relates to their communities.  For more information, please contact Aaron Glavas, national outreach manager, Smithsonian Affiliations: glavasc@si.edu



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