The Impact of the Youth Leadership program
“Our family has volunteered well over 10,000 hours at Conner Prairie. While that may seem like our gift to Conner Prairie, in reality, Conner Prairie has given our family invaluable lessons and memories that will last a lifetime.” –Amy Kalscheur
Learning matters. It happens all around us, every day at Conner Prairie—from Prairietown to Treetop Outpost to Discovery Station. And for 100 young people each year, Conner Prairie is home to an even deeper learning experience: Our Youth Leadership Program.
If anyone feels the impact of Conner Prairie’s Youth Leadership Program, it’s the Kalscheur family. From Indianapolis, Mike and Amy have eight kids, and each one has served as a Youth Volunteer at Conner Prairie.
In this program, volunteers ages 10 to 18 spend more than 100 hours at our museum throughout the year, gaining hands-on experience interacting with guests, learning historic skills, caring for animals, public speaking and more.
Studies show that 85% of career success comes from having well-developed soft skills and people skills, such as confidence, leadership, teamwork and communication. Consistently, Youth Volunteers report positive changes in these skills in year-end surveys.
Anna Kalscheur, Youth Volunteer from 2017 to 2023, shares: “I went from being the most shy girl in the room to someone who can speak confidently to adults and peers. Conner Prairie has helped me become a leader as I have been able to mentor new and incoming youth. I have learned teamwork as I have worked with adults and other youth to give guests the best experience when they come to the grounds.”
For 15 years, the Kalscheur kids have participated in the program in various roles—from Youth Agriculture Captains where they care for Heritage Breed animals, to Youth Spinners where they learned about historic textiles. They’ve learned about the Lenape culture and language, Civil War-era medicine, axe throwing, beading, how to chop wood and start fires. They’ve even assisted with the birth of live animals!
“The youth program completely changed how I approached history—instead of names and dates it became something that I could relate to my own life and use to change the world around me,” shares Sophia Kalscheur, 2014-2018.
Having a child in the program since 2009, Amy shares: “Our family has volunteered well over 10,000 hours at Conner Prairie. While that may seem like our gift to Conner Prairie, in reality, Conner Prairie has given our family invaluable lessons and memories that will last a lifetime.”
Youth Leadership is one of the many unique opportunities for learning that exist at Conner Prairie, made possible by generous community and philanthropic support. Help us foster learning and inspire curiosity with a gift to the Mission Impact Fund today.
Interested in becoming a Youth Volunteer? Applications are due January 5, 2024. Learn more here.
About the Author
Erin Silcox is the Senior Manager of Annual Fund and Donor Relations at Conner Prairie, responsible for ensuring that Conner Prairie donors see and feel the impact their donations make for our guests, staff, and the community.