The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County is launching a pilot program for the younger generation. Jr. Heritage Foundation, which will focus on preservation, education and volunteerism, is designed for young preservationists from sixth grade to twelfth grade. The program is a membership-based program within the Heritage Classroom initiative. Initially, the Jr. Heritage Foundation program will be implemented at Battle Ground Academy (BGA) Middle and Upper Schools, with the hopes of expanding the program to all of Williamson County in 2020.
Inspired by programming he attended while vacationing in Historic Williamsburg several years ago, John Denton, an eighth-grade student at BGA, approached Heritage Foundation CEO Bari Beasley last fall to discuss the prospects of starting the Jr. Heritage Foundation. Together, they have worked with the Foundation’s staff, BGA faculty and a small group of students from BGA to get the pilot program formed and off the ground.
“It has been really great to see the Jr. Heritage Foundation actually come to life,” said John. “Knowing that securing our past is securing our future, I am excited for kids to get involved with the history lessons and tours, community service and other fun activities we have been planning for 2019.”
As a member of the group, students will have the opportunity to take part in members- only, educational field trips to places of historical significance within the county, as well as behind-the-scenes tours and exclusive volunteer opportunities to help meet any required volunteer hours. The program will be a feeder program into Next Gen, the Heritage Foundation’s membership base for young professionals.
“We talk a lot at the Heritage Foundation about the unique sense of place that we feel in Williamson County, and that is due in large part to intentional historic preservation efforts,” said Jaryn Abdallah, heritage classroom educator. “I’m excited for yet another generation to experience this sense of place and get involved in the efforts to preserve it.”
Jaryn recently joined the Foundation in early January and will lead the Jr. Heritage Foundation program as well as the organization’s thirty-year-old heritage classroom program. She has over six years of experience in historical education. Having worked at
the President James K. Polk Home & Museum as the Director of Polk Academy, she worked on educational initiatives, including summer camps and outreach to local schools and homeschool communities. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Adolescence Education from Houghton College and a Master of Arts degree in History with an emphasis on Museum Studies from Middle Tennessee State University. A native of Western, New York, Jaryn and her husband have lived in middle Tennessee for eleven years.
Founding advisory board members of the Jr. Heritage Foundation are President John Denton (eighth grade), Vice President Duncan Knopf (ninth grade), Treasurer Jackson Rowley (eighth grade) and Secretary Evey Knopf (sixth grade). The advisory board will meet quarterly.
For more information about the Jr. Heritage Foundation program, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Teachers interested in the Heritage Classroom program can also email Jaryn. To find out more about the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, visit williamsonheritage.org.