Monthly Archives: March 2011

Why You Should Attend SHA

I had the privilege of attending the Seminar for Historical Administration in the fall of 2010 and it was one of the best professional decisions I’ve ever made. Many people look at the three weeks away from work as a large commitment, but it should really be viewed as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to step away from everyday responsibilities and look at the bigger picture in the history field.

It was an opportunity to meet some of the best and brightest in our field. In 2010, John Durel, the coordinator for our class, assembled a tremendous group of instructors including Spencer Crew, Sal Cilella, David Crosson, Tim Grove, Kent Whitworth, and Trina Nelson Thomas, to name just a few. It was an opportunity to experience some truly dynamic educational programs such as Follow the North Star at Conner Prairie and The Power of Children at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and have lively discussions afterward.

It was an opportunity to share a class with other history leaders from around the country. My class had nineteen participants hailing from Kentucky, Illinois, Hawaii, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and New York. Additionally, the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Alberta were represented. The participants were directors, curators, education specialists, exhibits specialists, archivists, marketing specialists and public program specialists. Our home organizations ranged in size from one-person operations to large state historical societies. We took the opportunity to get to know each other andto learn from each other. We had lively after-hours conversations and unscheduled weekend trips to see Ohio and Kentucky. I now have an enlarged professional network from my classmates and from the hundreds of other alumni that have graduated over the last 50 years.

Finally, SHA was an opportunity to get my enthusiasm back. In the day-to-day grind of our lives, we can sometimes get lost in the myopia of our institutions. Taking a three-week step back from everyday life and focusing on why I entered this profession has given me a renewed energy. I feel better prepared for the the challenges and changes coming to our profession. The opportunity was well worth it.

Cindy Olsen
Minnesota Historical Society and SHA Class of 2010

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