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American Battlefield Trust and Gettysburg National Military Park join forces for 5-year initiative, benefiting over 1,000 young leaders

Applications now being accepted for summer/fall 2020 “Great Task” Leadership Program

Gettysburg, PA – In his immortal Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln challenged all Americans to advance the ideals of the Declaration of Independence – “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us.” In the spirit of Lincoln’s most famous speech, Gettysburg National Military Park created the “Great Task” Youth Leadership Program. Geared for at-risk student and youth organizations, from grade levels 7 to 12, the Great Task offers intensive leadership and character-building experiences that go beyond traditional curriculum-based field trips. By utilizing the battlefield as an outdoor classroom, participants are immersed in the stories of leadership, heroism and civic responsibility embodied by those involved in, and affected by, the battle. 

A park ranger leads a Great Task education group through marching drills. NPS Photo

And thanks to a new partnership with the American Battlefield Trust, and the multi-year financial commitment of the Bowe Stewart Foundation, this already successful and award-winning program will be substantially expanded — virtually, geographically and thematically — between 2020 and 2025. Peter Bowe of the Bowe Stewart Foundation commented that “The mission of these two great organizations is so clear, the opportunity so valuable, and their teams so strong, that we are fortunate to partner with them.”

Garry Adelman, the Trust’s Chief Historian explained, “The education goals of the American Battlefield Trust and the National Park Service at Gettysburg are one and the same: to create model programs for the next generation of leaders to learn directly from America’s battlefields. We are proud to join forces to make that happen for an ever-broadening circle of youth.”

Alongside Park and Trust educators and living historians, youth will explore the 7,000-acre battlefield park, and participate in hands-on learning activities that bring the past to life, while illuminating the possibilities of the future. Expansion plans for the partnership include: a virtual component designed for those who cannot physically make it to Gettysburg, but that will also better prepare those who can; the addition of at-risk youth from Baltimore, Maryland, and Chicago, Illinois, among other key citiesand regions; classroom and library materials for participating organizations; and the application of this leadership and service model to other American battlefields. 

A visit to a historic site can be a life-changing event, and history can do much more than instruct; it can inspire! The Great Task offers young people the chance to get into an outdoor learning environment, where they will be immersed in history and civics, while exploring their roles as leaders in their schools, communities and throughout their lives,” explained Barbara Sanders, education specialist for Gettysburg National Military Park, National Park Service. 

Applications for the program will be accepted through April 30 for one or two-day excursions from July through October, customized to match the mission and objectives of each youth organization. Limited travel and accommodation scholarships will be available through the financial support of the American Battlefield Trust and the Bowe Stewart Foundation. To learn more about these opportunities, group leaders and teachers can email the Education Office at Gettysburg National Military Park at or visit the American Battlefield Trust


About the American Battlefield Trust
The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 52,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War — including 1,183 acres at Gettysburg. Learn more at

About Gettysburg National Military Park
Gettysburg National Military Park preserves, protects and interprets for this and future generations the resources associated with the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, during the American Civil War, the Soldiers' National Cemetery, and their commemorations. Learn more at

About The Bowe Stewart Foundation
The Peter Bowe and Barbara Stewart Foundation funds organizations located primarily in Baltimore and Chicago that share the goal of helping individuals improve their lives and their communities. The Foundation’s primary focus is closing the opportunity gap for the working poor by supporting organizations that emphasize education, training, and work experience, creating opportunities for “earned success.” Learn more at