Sarah Morin - Youth Experience Manager aka Kid Wrangler
Claire Ellis and Marin Bray are 3rd year youth volunteers at Conner Prairie. I often schedule these close friends to work at the same post – their enthusiasm and creativity multiples exponentially when together. Collectively, they have donated 1000 hours to Conner Prairie.
We invite our more mature and capable youth, like Marin and Claire, to portray characters along the Underground Railroad during our Follow the North Star
(FNS)program. They help or hinder guests who take on the role of escaping slaves. The program is intense and brings up an ugly side of American history. This is exactly why we choose to involve our kids. Many of our youth learn to think more deeply about prejudice, racism, and human exploitation. Some became advocates within their own schools for human rights. It also makes a powerful impression on our young guests, who see someone their own age risking his/her life for freedom or to help a stranger.
Marin and Claire - in their own words:
At Conner Prairie, FNS is a very serious subject; however it happens to be our favorite program. There are two posts that we love to work, Halsey and Merrick. The Merricks are an Indiana family that’s barely scraping along. No thanks to the slaves that have stolen all their jobs. Despite everything, they agree to help the slaves. Later you encounter the Halseys, a Quaker family willing to help “friends”. They feed you and offer you advice; alas they can’t keep you either and send you on your way.
Claire Ellis: I feel I relate most to Halsey. I’ve always been willing to help a person in need, and if a group of runaway slaves showed up at my doorstep, I would help them. I feel I relate to Halsey because when the slaves first enter, we all are in a state of shock. Then we decide to strap on our big kid boots and get the job done. We risk everything by escorting the fugitives across the street. But at the end of the day, I would do it all over again.
Marin Bray: When asked to write about my favorite post, I thought to myself, “Dang, should I be a good girl and write Halsey because it’s the ‘right answer’?” I think the characters at the Merrick post are easier for me to relate to. Don't take it the wrong way, of course I would help! But as someone who had no way of helping them I would rather send them on to someone more helpful.
FNS has given each of us a new perspective on slavery. Being part of the program has made us appreciate what we have today. We feel lucky to be apart of the program, especially with our best friend.