Lights, Camera, History!

Boulder County Parks & Open Space museums may be closed, but that doesn’t stop the department’s cultural history team from sharing local history.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant that the Agricultural Heritage Center, Nederland Mining Museum, Assay Office Museum, Altona School, Cardinal Mill, and Walker Ranch Homestead didn’t open, or host programs and events for the 2020 season.

In April 2020, we requested help from volunteers to star in videos about those buildings and participate in living history demonstrations typically done at programs and events.

We quickly learned to film videos using iPads as our cameras, and experimented with a variety of video editing software. We shared tips and tricks with the department’s natural history education colleagues. Everyone became movie stars, directors, and editors.

For example, Carol and Vanessa Haggans (a mother and daughter volunteer team) offer a video tour of the log house at Walker Ranch Homestead; Marv Van Peursem shares information about silos and the Agricultural Heritage Center; and Linda Batlin brings to life what a one-room school was like in the 1880s.

This fall, we ventured into the world of virtual programs, featuring live participation by the public. The first program was called, “Walker Ranch—Virtually Cross Stitch ‘n’ History.” Seven participants joined us for this Zoom program. Volunteer Laura Skladzinski taught the basics of cross stitch. (A list of materials was sent when participants registered.) The program also included a slide show about Walker Ranch history and needlework fun facts while participants worked on their stitching. At the program’s end, everyone used their computer camera to show their cross stitch projects, ask questions, and make comments. This program will be offered again during winter break, and a new program on the evolution of farming is coming in December. A collaborative virtual program with two other museums on Isabella Bird is in the works.

Remote Learning for Students

With the 2020-21 school year already halfway over, we miss our in-person school programs, but that doesn’t mean learning about cultural history has to stop!

Virtual field trips for teachers and homeschool parents are available for Altona School, Walker Ranch Homestead, and the Agricultural Heritage Center. Field trips are flexible and can be used as the teacher/parent/group leader wishes. They were created for 3rd-4th grade students, but can be adjusted for other age groups.

During the Altona School field trip, you will learn about a World War II-era schoolhouse (best for older students). In the Walker Ranch Homestead field, you will tour the blacksmith shop. The Agricultural Heritage Center field trip covers kids’ chores and shelling corn.

Each virtual field trip includes an introduction to the site and its history which can be read aloud or silently by students/teachers. Then students can watch several videos related to the site and what visitors might experience there. Videos are a few minutes to about 25 minutes long. After the video, students can reflect on, write about, or draw responses to questions.

There are also at-home or at-school activities for each virtual field trip. Depending on which site is visited, students can make butter at home or examine rocks, research popular music of historic timeframes and then learn a song to share with friends and family.

We hope you have fun learning history even if you can’t visit cultural history sites in person. Contact Sheryl Kippen ( or 303-776-8848) to have virtual field trips emailed to you.