Story

6 ways our volunteers are helping us bring Colorado history to life

One of your New Year’s resolutions might be to give more back to your community. If so, consider becoming one of the incredible volunteers helping us share Colorado’s stories. Our volunteers work on the front lines, behind the scenes and across the state, using their skills and expertise to bring Colorado’s history to life.

One of our big accomplishments in 2018 was becoming certified as a Service Enterprise organization. That means we’ve undergone extensive planning to integrate volunteers into our day-to-day operations and better leverage their time and talents to meet our mission. Certified Service Enterprises join an exclusive group among the top 11% of organizations in the country in volunteer management and organizational performance. We are one of only nine such organizations across the state of Colorado.

Here are several of our volunteers who—if you ask us!—demonstrate the amazing work we’re doing together to inspire wonder in our past.

Vinnie Musumecci, Regimental Blacksmith, Fort Garland Museum & Cultural Center

Vinnie is a Colorado native whose parents came from Italy. He was a shop and physical education teacher in the Mapleton Public Schools. While still teaching, Vinnie started volunteering as a blacksmith at an outdoor education program in Estes Park. He eventually found his home as a member of Fort Garland’s Memorial Regiment. Boasting as many as sixty members, the regiment wears authentic uniforms and uses authentically reproduced items to enact the time period they represent. Vinnie’s portable smithy includes forge, bellows, toolbox, anvil and vise. He explains to Fort Garland visitors how different tools were used to make parts and repairs.

Sandy Ensor, Living Historian, Fort Garland Museum & Cultural Center

Like others at Fort Garland, Sandy refers to herself as a living historian. She portrays a founder of the Daughters of the American Revolution and has a dress that can be switched between morning attire and a ball gown. Sandy is a collector and lover of antiquarian books and maps. She’s currently gathering background information on the women who lived at the fort or were associated with it. From this work, one thing Sandy has learned is that sometimes the women of the late 1800s were wearing up to ten pounds of underwear!

 

Diana Doyle, Special Events Volunteer, History Colorado Center

Diana is a third-generation Colorado native whose great-grandfather delivered water to the gold rush miners in Cripple Creek. When our new History Colorado Center opened in 2012, Diana started volunteering as an exhibit resetter in the Destination Colorado space. She loves working with the children in the Keota General Store to help them with their math, money and shopping skills. Diana connection with Keota’s General Store may be inspired by the fact that her grandfather and father owned and operated a pharmacy in Denver for almost four decades. She volunteers during special events like exhibit openings. She also made a mannequin to help students learn about sewing and dressmaking as part of the “Western Work: Colorado Industries of the Past” History Take-Out program. Next, she’s making cardboard ice blocks to demonstrate delivery of ice in the early refrigeration industry.

 

Abigail Armstrong, Exhibit Resetter, History Colorado Center

Abigail Armstrong facilitates touch carts in the Destination Colorado, Colorado Stories and Living West exhibits at the History Colorado Center. Ever since she shadowed an archaeologist from History Colorado in the eighth grade, she’s been engaged in museum activities, pursuing leadership opportunities. Abigail is a founding member of the History Colorado Youth Advisory Council. She especially loves meeting people from other cultures. She hopes to study politics and history in college.

 

Spencer Little, Volunteer/Intern, El Pueblo History Museum

Spencer is a sixth-generation Cañon City resident who studies history and anthropology at Colorado State University-Pueblo. He was raised in Wetmore, Colorado, near the 1844 settlement of Hardscrabble, built by some of the founders of El Pueblo Trading Post. Spencer worked with our state archaeologist in the excavation of the El Pueblo site. He independently researched the early founders, read the journals and letters of inhabitants and even traveled to the New Mexico State Archive to read records. He interned with El Pueblo’s education team, facilitating school groups and creating programs about trading, preservation and petroglyphs. Last summer he took his experience to Washington, D.C., and completed an internship at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

 

Dale Hayhurst, Volunteer Council Historian, Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation

Dale spent three years photographing clothing dating back to the 1840s for the Collections department. He’s now helping our Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation scan site forms from Rio Blanco County. The site forms have included surveys of government-owned and privately owned land prior to oil and gas exploration as well as old homes in Meeker. Dale oversaw survey crews for 35 years of work as a landman in the oil and gas industry across the West. As part of his undergraduate studies in archaeology at the University of Colorado, he spent time doing surveys and excavations in southwestern Colorado at places like Mesa Verde, Chimney Rock, Mummy Lake and Raven House. In fact, it’s not surprising for him to find his own name, sometimes with a photograph of him on the survey site, on the site forms from Dolores and Montezuma counties!

Want to learn more? Check out our volunteer open house on Jan. 12, 2019!

Click here to find out more about the benefits of volunteering with us as well as opportunities we offer at ten locations across the state.