Lynn Jenkins, U.S. Representative for Kansas’s 2nd Congressional District, visited the Carnegie Building, headquarters of the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, 200 W. 9th St., Lawrence, Kansas, on Monday, March 13.

In February, Freedom’s Frontier Executive Director Jim Ogle, and Managing Director Julie McPike visited Congresswoman Jenkins’s office in Washington, D.C, while in the Capitol as part of the annual meeting of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas.

During the Freedom’s Frontier staff visit to Congresswoman Jenkins’s office, she reaffirmed her support of national heritage areas by signing on as a cosponsor of H.R.1002, the National Heritage Area Act of 2017. This bill would bring all 49 national heritage areas under the same legislation, provide unified national standards, national oversight, analysis, coordination, technical and financial assistance, and support to ensure consistency and accountability of the National Heritage Area System.

Jenkins visited Lawrence to find out more about the heritage area, and its work with more than 200 partnering organizations to tell the region’s nationally significant stories of the shaping of the frontier, the Missouri-Kansas Border War, and the enduring struggle for freedom.

During her visit, Jenkins viewed some of the exhibits, and learned about educational programs and materials created through the Freedom’s Frontier Interpretive Grant Program.

In 2016, the Interpretive Grant Program awarded $137,745 in 32 grants to partnering organizations for a variety of projects, that supported 190 jobs in the 41 Kansas and Missouri counties of Freedom’s Frontier. All grants over $1,500 require the grantee to match at least half of the requested amount. Our partners surpassed that, by leveraging $1,649,978 in cash match, staff and volunteer time at historic sites, and in-kind donations of goods and services that has also gone into those Interpretive Grant projects.

In addition to the permanent exhibits, some of the other projects on exhibit included:

Lawrence Public Library and Henry Fortunato, Sunflower Republic, LLC, displayed interpretive panels for the Burroughs Creek Trail Project. A Hike Through History on the Burroughs Creek Trail in Lawrence, Kansas began as a library exhibit, but has evolved into a 9-panel permanent installation along a 1.7 mile trail. Panel topics include Quantrill’s Raid, the Oregon-California Trial, and Kansas railroad history.

Mike McCormick, Executive Director of Kansas African American Museum and Jo Bogan, trail project manager, provided information about the Kansas African American History Trail. Part of that trail will run through eastern Kansas. This project, funded in part by an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant, seeks to elevate the public’s knowledge of Kansas African American History and the events that shaped and defined our shared history and culture.

Nate McAlister, Royal Valley Middle School history teacher, and students from this school in Mayetta, Kansas, who assisted with the creation of a mural about the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, shared their project. The students won the Freedom’s Frontier Tacha Freedom Award, an annual award presented to students who interpret Freedom’s Frontier history, for the mural they produced.

Johnson County Library has worked with two Kansas City metro high schools to create the KC Race Project. Freedom’s Frontier Interpretive Grant funding is assisting with guide books, and other aspects of bus tours that take students to Kansas City neighborhoods and allow them to begin a dialog about racial issues in their community. The program involves students reading the Tanner Colby book, Some of My Best Friends are Black, and meeting the author to continue their discussions. Lawrence Public Library is working on duplicating this program in Lawrence, and were in attendance to discuss the program.

Freedom’s Frontier has recently partnered with the Greenbush Southeast Kansas Education Service Center. Among the projects being developed is a distance learning educational program that will create online classroom opportunities to meet state history instruction standards. Greenbush staff will work with the Freedom’s Frontier Education and Interpretation Manager, and heritage area partners, to create lesson plans and provide technology that will connect Kansas classrooms to museums and historic sites that may be too distant for them to visit in person.

Freedom’s Frontier highlighted temporary exhibits at the Carnegie that include a plaque and information about Jim Lane, and a National Archives Bill of Rights display. The heritage area also showcased examples of signage that is going up throughout our 41 counties at partner sites, and plans for the directional and roadway signs. An example of a tourism kiosk in production for partner sites, and a timeline exhibit will also be on display in the Heritage Room.