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Youth Leadership Team 2022-2023

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

The American Battlefield Trust Youth Leadership Team (YLT) is a rotating group of 10-14 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. 

Addison Anderson, Loveland, OH

I hope to create a Student Organize Service -  The goal of this SOS group would be accomplished in many ways. Members could visit local historical sights, which are mainly centered around the Civil War here in Cincinnati and and northern Kentucky, and museums, such as the Underground Railroad Freedom Center, to learn more about our history from experts and then come back and share that information with the student body through presentations, posters, videos, etc. Another way is educating the school about specific moments in our history on the days they occurred and connecting that to today and the impact it's had on our lives now. The group could also help with the middle school history club to provide them with more opportunities and knowledge so that their love and knowledge of history can grow even deeper.

“My dad inspired and nurtured my love for it.” 

Ahmya Rivera, Elizabeth City, NC

I plan to reward students who showcase a dedication to promoting educational resources, specifically educational resources regarding the American Revolution, War of 1812, or Civil War. Students will have a timeframe to submit ways they have promoted education about said war; this education can be about individuals in the war or the war itself. They can create an informative infographic, hang a poster at school, host a webinar within their community – anything! Based on the scale of the project, select students will receive a graduation cord or sole to be worn at their senior graduations. All winners will be recognized through features on the American Battlefield Trust website and on the Trust’s social media.

“My interest is history started from my eagerness to learn the result (In all the ways that can be interpreted). I first became interested in the history of historic building, such as the Biltmore Estate. Through this I became interested in learning the history behind varying items/places; in hopes of eventually seeing them in-person. Being able to interact with the result of history is an eye-opening and humbling experience for me, and it allows me to realize the significance current events can have on the future. As of course, with every action we are making history — no matter how significant is may seem to us now."

Ana Kangsumrith, Fairhope, AL

My project would focus on reinvigorating my community’s interest in the history of the many forts and preserved terrain that serve as locations for popular outings. By utilizing interviews with our local museum, historians, directors, and the various faculty at Fort Morgan and Spanish Fort’s historical parks, I would create a documentary (using my family’s film and photography equipment) accompanied by an article, published in the local magazine, describing the role of these incredible places and my home county in both the War of 1812 and the Civil War. I would especially like to reach out to younger ages by combining this documentary with other visual media (such as photographs, objects, and newspaper clippings) to create an exhibit at my local museum or library. I still have so much to learn about America’s history, battlegrounds, preservation, and my community, and I ultimately hope to do so while providing new and interesting opportunities to strengthen my community’s interest and knowledge in the rich history and legacy that is within the longstanding preservations of my county.

“I became interested in history when I joined the history club at my middle school. Although there is no history club at my high school, AP US history has been my favorite class so far content-wise."

Colin Shen, Huston, TX

By creating an art gallery filled with ten acts of ordinary American heroes, their passion will be felt by my local community. I will depict harrowing battles through vibrant oil paints, capture moments of bravery in striking graphite, and mold American sacrifice through clay. These works of art will be displayed in online galleries, libraries, and local exhibits in order to maximize reach. Similar to the American Battlefields Trust Mission, artwork provides a means to educate a wide variety of people on America’s history, and why it continues to matter today. As something that is understood by anyone, art is a powerful tool for encapsulating and expressing the suffering, sacrifice, and freedom of war. Ordinary individuals who acted as brave leaders and heroes will be memorialized as cornerstones in history, continuing to inspire America and her next generations.

Starting from my elementary school years, my dad’s storytelling has always sparked my interest. Each night as I snuggled up in bed, he would begin to delicately craft a world of imagination. Each sentence he spoke would create new characters, new places, and new journeys. My dad would talk about ancient Chinese wars, various dynasties, and our Chinese heritage for hours, painting vivid images and scenes in my head. From this storytelling, my love for history blossomed."

Colter Sienkiewicz, Livingston, MT

During the past few years, due to changing normals, we have had to find new ways to connect with these places that can so often have great impact on on the way we view the world. For my project proposal, I want to create a virtual tour and virtual museum for the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Big Timber, Montana. I would use programming languages such as Python, Java, Html, and CSS to create an interactive virtual experience aimed to educate and engage youth audiences. In this way, I can combine my passion for programming with my love for history to educate youth audiences about the events leading up to the battle, the battle, and the aftermath of the Battle Little Big Horn. I live in Livingston, Montana but currently go to boarding school in Concord, New Hampshire as part of a program called the Cook Scholarship. I know that the American Battlefield trust often focuses more on Civil War and revolutionary battlefields, so if the organization were to prefer I focused my project on another battlefield I would be happy to do so and could choose a project closer to school year-home in Concord NH.

 

“My grandfather is from Belarus, but after WWII he and his parents fled to America and settled in Princeton, New Jersey. Ever since I was little, we both loved trying to piece together our family's story. In fifth grade, my class did a project on the important role immigration played in shaping our country. My grandfather and I made a short video documenting his experiences. We found the Ellis Island archives from 1950 and found the manifest of the ship on which my grandfather arrived. We also traced my grandfather's voyage from his home in what was then the Soviet Union through Eastern Europe, East and West Germany to the port of Bremerhaven, where he and his parents boarded the USS General Black, a repurposed troop carrier from the war, headed to Ellis Island. Creating this project with my grandad was the start of my love for history. I loved being a detective and discovering facts and stories about my past that I had never known. Furthermore, I loved learning about history, because the more I understand about our past, the more the world around me made sense."

David Mackowski, Georgetown, TX

My idea for a battlefield project in my community is this: a school visit to the Sabine Pass Battlefield in Port Arthur, Texas. Though it is not a major battle site, it stopped the Union from entering and occupying Texas during the Civil War. This would be not only an opportunity to discuss the Civil War in Texas (and in general), but also to help show the reality that the Civil War happened. Overall, it would be a fantastic opportunity to help ground my school’s historical education in something more tangible.

“My interest in history originated from my 10th grade AP World History class, which showed me that history was not only important but had lots of interesting and intriguing parts to it."

Ella Dieterlen, Dillsboro, IN

My project would be focused on food with an emphasis on Civil War era foods. Delving into the types of foods that were most prevalent in the battlefields versus at home as well as researching which fruits and vegetables were in season during specific times of year. Whenever I go to events, I find people having trouble figuring out what to take or what was in season during that time of year. In turn, I would focus on creating a pocket guide with simple recipes converted into modern terms, lists of fruits and vegetables with seasons they would be prevalent, and helpful information relevant to foods of the era.

"My favorite historic site is Colonial Williamsburg because it is so rich in our country's history, and I love the costumed interpreters as well as learning from them."

Grace Schroeder, Portland, OR

My project will involve bringing Civil War history not only to my local community but to those across our nation and around the world. I plan to write and produce a play centered around a young Oregon farmer enlisting in the Union army and being deployed to fight on the east coast. Theater and artistic expression is something I hold incredibly close to my heart and I would love to intertwine education and performing arts to bring the tribulations and joys of the past to the present day. My project will be acted out then digitized in the form of a multi-episode podcast for listeners anywhere, anytime.

“My interest in history originated in the fourth grade when I first heard President Kennedy's Inauguration Speech and the spark was immediately ignited for my passion of the past. The intricacies of the Kennedy administration and political family has always fascinated me from their stances on social justice in the 1960s and the prioritization of an equitable and accessible America."

Jacob L.T Bates, Stonington, CT

This August, a Civil War Living History and Reenactment event will be taking place at Historic Fort Trumbull, in New London, Connecticut, and I am the lead event planner for this occasion. This event should be a large success, complete with two days of battles, performances by Civil War era bands, a visit from President Lincoln, speech by Frederick Douglass, and focus on the 54th Massachusetts- the first African-American Regiment in the Union Army. If selected for the American Battlefield Trust Youth Leadership team, I would use the success of this first event as a jumping off point to plan an even larger and more authentic reenactment at the fort. I would use all lessons learned from the first event hosted, and strive to improve the quality of the next event for both spectators and participants alike. Through gaining a larger number of reenactors and placing a greater focus on civilian roles in the war, audience members will be able to gain a greater understanding of the American Civil War, it’s magnitude, and the contributions of people on the homefront who were just like them.

“I have absolutely always been interested in history. I live in an historic village, and as a child, after listening to the stories of my grandmother who’s Great Uncle was a Civil War veteran - I began to read picture books, admire paintings, and watch all of the documentaries I could get my hands on regarding the American Civil War! My favorite television show as a child was “Civil War Journal!” I constantly talked to my friends about this passion, even those who were not particularly interested in history - and always loved to share my knowledge with them! I have been on the path of greater learning ever since!"

Sriya Tallapragada, New Providence, NJ

I would like to create programs in which the youth of the greater NJ will be able to do research and understand the role conflict has had in history through research into our community battlefields. This would include field research and tours into local battlefields in my community. I view battlefields as solemn moments in history in which people sacrificed themselves to protect their values, and I would like to educate people children in my community about how people were involved and, broadly, how this is reflected in our present. This curriculum would include trips to Old Barracks Museum, Princeton Battlefield State Park, Monmouth Battlefield State Park, Morristown National Historical Park, etc. We would do research and learn about each place, logging down everything into a set of notes. I would work with staff at each park to communicate an accurate representation of what happened at each battlefield site. I would then assign each member of the group I lead to research into the role individual communities/people played in the conflict that manifested on the battlefield. I feel as though this project would be the key to helping the youth in NJ unlock an understanding of the land we are on, and gain the level of appreciation for the history that I enjoyed growing up.

“My parents, both immigrants from Asia, have always stressed what it means to be an American citizen. I grew up going on service trips, getting involved in my community, attending protests, etc. In order to do all this, my parents took me places to learn more about the world I live in through looking at history. I would often visit historical sites and museums in the NJ area, which was interesting because it made history seem relevant to me."