Youth Leadership Team 2020-2021

The American Battlefield Trust is excited to introduce our second Youth Leadership Team! 

The American Battlefield Trust Youth Leadership Team (YLT) is a rotating group of 15 young people, aged 15-18, who serve as the youth face and voice of the American Battlefield Trust. Youth Leadership Team members are required to become experts on the Trust’s mission, history, and media talking points, participate in a youth Lobby Day and create preservation, education, or visitation projects in their local communities over the course of one year. 

By supporting this group of motivated young leaders, we hope to create a ripple effect for battlefield preservation, visitation, history education in our nation. Our goal is for young people to connect and empower each other to create change within their own schools and communities. 


Alex Azar, Bethesda, Maryland 

Alex, a DC-area student, is excited to help preserve the often forgotten War of 1812 battlefields and educate the public about why they matter. 

“By participating in the Trust’s Youth Leadership Team, I hope to acquire and refine the skills of advocating for and spreading awareness of the preservation of history on both the community and federal level. Whether it be through lobbying our elected officials on Capitol Hill or by organizing local programs in my own community, I wish to spread my enthusiasm for historical preservation and convince others of the importance of saving America’s battlefields for future generations. In particular, I desire to highlight the significance of the sometimes forgotten War of 1812.” 


Andrew Palmer, Oregon, Wisconsin 

Andrew hopes to work with the University of Wisconsin to do more to recognize that it was built on a former prisoner of war camp. Camp Randall trained over 70,000 Union troops throughout the course of the war, in addition to the 1200 Confederate troops held prisoner. While the University of Wisconsin’s football stadium is built on the site and shares the same name, the University and city do little to recognize the history aside from a small park and memorial next to the stadium. Andrew will endeavor to work with the University to create an active recognition of the events that happened there.

“It is painful for me to see our brave soldiers being forgotten. I believe that there should be more than just the plaque across the thoroughfare to note the battle. I believe that we should commemorate our battlefields with a tangible reminder that Americans of all backgrounds gave their lives so that we could have our freedom.”


Ashley Alarcon, Estero, Florida 

Ashley currently attends Estero High School and hopes to host a field trip for a group of about 15 students from her high school to the Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park in Tallahassee, Florida. The Battle of Natural Bridge was the second largest Civil War battle fought in Florida. This trip will provide a unique social experience to connect her classmates to one another based on their shared Floridian heritage and love for history.

“The mission of the American Battlefield Trust matters to me because I think my generation does not honor our nation’s brave soldiers and sacred battlegrounds like they should. I feel that it is important for me to rise up and become a voice in my community about the importance of America’s hallowed battlegrounds.”


Ashlyn O'Neill, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania 

Ashlyn is a student at York Catholic High School and is currently working to engage the youth who come to visit Gettysburg and find themselves not understanding the importance of the site they are at. She hopes to create an official Gettysburg battlefield scavenger hunt. The goal of this scavenger hunt is to add an element of fun to the process of learning the history of a place with the importance and value of Gettysburg in order to inspire these young people to carry on conservation efforts.

“Throughout my life, the history of our nation has been a high point of interest for me. When studying the U.S. it is impossible to ignore the importance of the wars that helped to shape our Great Nation. From the American Revolution to the Civil War the battlefields that played host to these wars stand alone in history. They have unique value and meaning to the American people.”


 Ben Armus, Long Beach, New York 

Ben is energized to create an initiative in Long Island schools to learn about and visit the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Hempstead Swamp. He hopes to connect students to the history of servicemen and spies who protect the nation. Ideally, schools would be able to visit the site, but he will also create a website and YouTube video that teachers can show their students.

“As a child, my family visited battlefields like Gettysburg, Bull Run, and Antietam; I was riveted by the idea of a nation with values people would willingly fight and die for. These same values brought my immigrant ancestors here. We need to preserve these sites because history drives our understanding of America. This is true especially in the modern era, as we grow distant from our past.” 


Daniel Holt, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina 

Daniel currently attends Wando High School and is working to reveal to the citizens of John’s Island the importance of their island in the American Civil War. The land today is still used for agricultural purposes as it was in 1864, and the roads are still in the same location as the day the battle took place. His goal would be to create a physical platform with signs displaying maps of the battle that provide information regarding the relative location to Confederate and Federal positions, detailing the events and significance of the battle.

“It’s severely depressing to see Civil War earthworks actively being razed by frontloaders and artifacts being covered with cement foundations for overpriced homes. This rampant destruction of historic landmarks could be averted simply if the public recognized the significance of these sites. That is why, to me, the mission of the American Battlefield Trust is a beacon of hope that could ensure the future existence of these hallowed grounds.” 


Drew Thompson, Henrico, Virginia

Drew is in the process of constructing a mobile scavenger hunt app, proposed name Battle Blitz, for a Richmond-area battlefield, such as Malvern Hill. Participants would download the app, create an avatar, and be ushered into a timed blitz to find features around the battlefield. At each location, users would then upload a picture or answer a corresponding question. Completing the hunt, players would be ranked by time and listed on a leaderboard. Battle Blitz would keep field trip groups engaged and learning and push individuals to visit every corner of the battlefield, ensuring the maximum fun and education from the battlefield experience.

“Battlefields embody immense human suffering and striving, connecting us to the past in ways beyond the ability of the written word. The mission of the American Battlefield Trust is exigent to me because the preservation of our nation’s hallowed ground creates profound connections to the past that allow us to fully understand our identity, giving us the grounding to understand where we are going.” 


Francesca Lanese, Grove City, Ohio 

Francesca hopes to create an interactive website, with an informative video about the updated history of Camp Chase and its importance today. Camp Chase, established in 1861, was a Union training and Confederate POW camp. It contains the stories and hardships of roughly 150,000 Union soldiers and 25,000 Confederate prisoners. Over 2,000 of those prisoners died from either unintentional starvation or disease outbreaks and were buried at Camp Chase. Today, it is hard to find and its context is missing. She would like to restore it for her community.

“Union veteran William Kanuss’s efforts to preserve Camp Chase exemplify the mission of the American Battlefield Trust. While many contemporaries would have preferred to erase the tragic history of the camp, Knauss recognized the need to honor both sides’ sacrifice. The Trust upholds the truth of history, not an airbrushed version. They keep historic sites like Camp Chase from being swept into the dustbin of the past.” 


Gabriella Gonzales, Farmington, New Mexico 

Gabbie is excited to implement a series of webinars and in-person seminars informing my community across the cultural ambit of the role of women, existing beyond domestic endeavors, in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Through this, emphasizing the sphere of academic policy and advocating for this journalistically, I would also hope to launch a website dedicated entirely to the Women’s Movement according to military history.

“The objective set forth by the American Battlefield Trust is critical in that the perpetuation of our nation’s war theaters correlates directly to revising the long-suppressed history of American women in our extant narrative. Reclamation, revitalization, and renaissance are imperative if we, as historians and advocates, ever hope to evolve this standard.” 


Ian Wooldridge, Liberty, Missouri

Ian plans to clean up and revitalize the Cemetery on the grounds of William Jewell College that holds the remains of those who died during the Battle of Blue Mills Landing. He is considering clearing brush, washing tombstones, replacing tombstones, adding a memorial either in or near it, adding a better sign, planting poppies, and cleaning the surrounding wall. These are just some of the things that he could achieve with the help of the American Battle Field Trust. He is also interested in creating a trail down to the actual battlefield and to include signs along the way.

“I have loved history ever since I was a little kid and continue to love it still! Ever since I earned my Eagle Scout I have strived to find other ways to make a meaningful impact on my community, my state, and the history of our great nation.”


Isaac Leichty, West Lafayette, Indiana 

Isaac, who is currently attending West Lafayette Jr./Sr. High School, is energized to identify one of the many witness trees at Tippecanoe Battlefield, Battleground, Indiana, and create signage to explain what it “saw” throughout the War of 1812 and far beyond. The presence of these witness trees provides an easily understood medium for showing the living connection we have to these battlefields. He proposes to create a timeline graphic with visuals that correlate to each event listed and first-hand accounts from the battle itself wherever possible to accentuate the immersion into history.

“Battlefields serve as a reminder and tribute to those who lost their lives and to contextualize the American spirit and its creation, transformation, and testing through the history of the nation. This trust matters to me because it preserves this rich history and fights for the continued promotion of these sites as places to connect with history and understand the journey of our nation.”


Julia Vogt, Cary, Illinois 

Julia hopes to use primary sources such as pictures, written accounts, and newspapers, I would design an exhibit geared to educate the general population of Illinois’ role in the Civil War. This exhibit could be used in multiple venues including local libraries, historical societies, and Veteran’s Groups. I would also contact the junior high school history educators and offer the display to be used as part of the History of Illinois Unit and the Civil War unit. I would present my project to the public to raise awareness about the preservation of the Civil War history and the camps in my community. 

“As a Youth Leadership Program team member, I would be able to use my skills as a history student to help raise awareness and educate my community about battlefield and historic site preservation. I live in an area without many battlefields, but it is rich with Civil War history.”


Kellen Narke, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania 

Kellen insists that with the internet there is absolutely no excuse for every student not to be exposed to the history of our nation’s battles and battlefields. That is why his ideal project would be online and aimed towards the community he most associates with: our nation’s youth. He is interested in creating videos aimed at telling stories from battlefields in such a way that is both academic and captivating, even for high school students. There is no lack of material to draw from in bringing this project to fruition thanks to the preservation of records and landscapes of battles. 

“When I stand out on a battlefield, I think about the young men just like me who were killed. They had dreams and aspirations that they never were able to pursue. So, when I look at the past, I immerse myself in their stories. Not necessarily so I can learn from their mistakes, but so I can honor their ambitions, use them as a source of inspiration, and allow them to live through me. In short, I dedicate my life to theirs.”


Sahar Tartak, Great Neck, New York 

Sahar hopes to organize a cultural event that will showcase American History through music. There are seven music groups in her school that could potentially participate: chamber choir, chorus, a cappella, competitive a cappella, symphony band, orchestra, and Community School band. Each group would perform songs that are related to American History, with an emphasis on the Civil War, War of 1812, and the Revolutionary War. Prior to individual performances, a summary of the song, its meaning, and its historical context will be set out for the audience. Each song will be dedicated to a fallen soldier that lost his life on American soil during these wars. I will prepare a concert program that tells the stories of these soldiers.

“Upwards of 600,000 brave American soldiers lost their lives in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and the Civil War. These wars shaped the U.S. into the land of liberty. Our soldiers died for American values. For freedom from tyranny. For an end to slavery. For a powerful position on the world stage. Our nation owes its ideological successes and democratic strength to our fallen soldiers, yet little is done in their commemoration. By preserving American battlefields, we first and foremost offer our fallen soldiers a memorial befitting their sacrifice.”


Charlotte Yeung, West Lafayette, Indiana

Charlotte, who is currently attending West Lafayette Jr./Sr. High School, plans to write, illustrate, and publish a children's book on battlefield preservation. The project is meant to foster an interest in battlefield preservation for the younger generation. 

“I value the American Battlefield Trust Mission because battlefields are physical reminders of history. They are the remnants of conflicts long finished and of people forgotten. Walking through a battlefield connects people in a way that reading a textbook or Wikipedia page cannot.”