Saw the first robin of the year. Nothing like having the slightest chance of hope that this long, drawn out winter will disappear sometime in the near future. The geese are also making a lot of racket while I’m trying to type this out, so maybe spring is finally around the corner. Good heavens, I sure hope so.
I’m home and buried in ranch work this week, and I’m really appreciating it. Last week was a mad rush to get beef deliveries taken care of on the eastern route, along with Grace shipping out orders on Monday. I made it to Omaha Monday evening and caught a Tuesday morning flight to Washington, D.C., with two other individuals to head to the Humanities on the Hill conference.
This is the second HOH Conference I have attended. Thanks to that which should not be named, the last one took place three years ago. A little background information: the Federation of State Humanities Councils came together from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday morning to meet with there congressional delegations along with each other to lobby on behalf of the funding that they receive from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Around $65 million goes out to the states to be used on operational expenses and programming.
So, what is humanities? By definition, humanities include the study of all languages and literatures, the arts, history and philosophy. Branches of humanities include law, languages, philosophy, religion and mythology, international relations, gender and women’s studies, multicultural and regional studies, popular culture, and art and music.
Along with ranching, and loving everything there is about that, I’m a real nerd when it comes to any of the above. I love to get lost at a museum or listen to a poet or get buried in some of the mundane things that I feel are really what makes us the people that we are.
People are also reading…
I’ve been on the Humanities Nebraska board around five years, and it’s been such a great experience. To give a little overview of how it works, Humanities Nebraska is supported by both the National Endowment for the Humanities along with private donors. In 2022, HN awarded over $270,000 in program grants and over $650,000 in pandemic recovery grants to organizations across the state with the goal to build Nebraska communities and enrich lives. There were over 149 Nebraska communities served in 2022 by HN funding. What I really appreciate the most is that when you look at the map of the communities it was dispersed throughout the entire state, which is something I feel that other groups seem to miss the mark on.
One of the most impactful programs that HN funds is called Prime Time Reading. More than 15,000 Nebraskan have participated in one or more of the 336 bilingual and English-only Prime Time series that is held throughout the state focused on communities where student scores in reading do not meet Nebraska state standards. In 2019 a survey of Nebraska families that participated in the Prime Time, 93% of participants said the program changed how families read and discussed books together, while 75% said the program helped improve their children’s work at school.
Another great thing of HN is the over 350 Speaker Bureau programs that are available to communities to pull from. The list goes on with the Capitol Forum for high school students, the Chautauqua, Nebraska Warrior Writers workshops, Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities, etc.
We were able to meet with all five of our congressional delegates. I want to give a big thank you to all of them for recognizing that humanities does not have to be partisan but something we can all learn from. I think we were one of the few participating states that got to meet with their entire delegation, and for that I’m very grateful.
My biggest takeaway is that there are a lot of people out there that do not think like I do. Exposing myself to experiences like this has let me see that first hand. It’s provided not only some great learning opportunities but also has given me the opportunity to share with others that may not have similar backgrounds or beliefs.
I really do want to commend the Humanities Nebraska staff for focusing on diversity, not only in programming but on the board. I feel they are setting a stellar representation for other state councils to follow. If you are interested in donation to HN programming, you can head over to the website at HumanitiesNebraska.org.
Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at email@example.com. This column represents the views of one person and are not necessarily the opinion of the Midwest Messenger.