American Battlefield Trust Lauds the Efforts of Young Advocates for Historic Preservation
Colleen Cheslak-Poulton, (202) 367-1861 x7234
(Washington, D.C.) – In the heat of summer, students enjoy the splendors of the season before returning to the classroom. But for the student leaders that make up the American Battlefield Trust’s 2022-2023 Youth Leadership Team (YLT), this time is also treasured due to the completion of capstone projects that highlight battlefield preservation, education, or visitation. As the final element in completing the YLT experience, the capstone project took many forms across the robust team of young battlefield preservationists.
Through the Youth Leadership Team program, the Trust challenges young minds to seek out adventure, creativity, an expanded network, and a greater understanding of both the American past and the present-day efforts to preserve it. The capstone project component presents an ideal opportunity for participants to check off each of these boxes while gaining new skills and engaging with their communities. Through the generosity of the Pipkin Charitable Foundation, team members receive a stipend to serve as project seed money.
Each student leader tuned in to their interests and surroundings during the capstone component of the Youth Leadership Team experience. And, over the course of their months-long involvement in the program, they developed an appreciation for historic preservation that will extend far past their roles with the American Battlefield Trust. YLT member Addison Anderson claimed that she came out of the experience with “advice from awesome mentors, strong friendships that will last for years to come, and some of the best memories of [her] life.”
Addison Anderson, Loveland, Ohio
“Even though the land the Trust protects hosted battles fought generations ago, lives in these communities are still impacted by the history surrounding them, inspiring new leaders and change-makers,” said Anderson. The young history enthusiast launched a service group through her Ohio high school called “Living History,” which is dedicated to supporting local historic sites through acts of volunteerism and educational programming. The group has already visited a handful of sites.
Ana Kangsumrith, Fairhope, Ala.
“Historic preservation is not just for me or for those who have a passion for history, but for the youth of Alabama, who need the chance to see history come alive,” said Kangsumrith. A creative soul, Kangsumrith made an oil painting of a Union artillery battery at Fort Blakeley — a historic site in her community and a location to which the Trust has preserved approximately 126 acres. She donated this painting to the Fairhope Museum of History for display. But Kangsumrith didn’t stop there — she also led the charge in developing a historical debate simulation, centered on the American Continental Congress leading up to the Revolutionary War, at her high school.
Colin Shen, Houston, Texas
“Without battlefields, America's journey will be forgotten, and the voices of ordinary soldiers will be lost,” said Shen. As a proponent of elevating lesser-known voices in history, he created an array of artworks with his subjects being figures that have often lingered on the periphery of Revolutionary War history, including Betsy Ross.
Colter Sienkiewicz, Livingston, Mont.
“The YLT experience offered me an opportunity to take a deep dive into something that interests me, learn more about the Trust's work preserving our rich history, and contribute to the Trust's mission,” said Sienkiewicz. The Montanan zoned in on U.S. maritime battlefields for his capstone project, identifying threats they face and reporting on how the public can help preserve and interpret the land and sea they encompass.
Other members of the 2022-2023 Youth Leadership Team include: Jacob L.T. Bates, of Stonington, Conn.; Ella Dieterlen, Dillsboro, Ind.; David Mackowski, Georgetown, Texas; Grace Schroeder, Portland, Ore.; and Sriya Tallapragada, of New Providence, N.J.
To learn more about the Trust’s Youth Leadership Team, please visit www.battlefields.org/ylt.
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 57,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.