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Carrie Reece

Carrie Reece, executive director of the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center foundation, is pictured Friday in the exhibit hall. The foundation will host a history bee for its upcoming fundraiser.

A new kind of fundraising participation event is set for the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center later this month. Because of the size of the venue, this first endeavor will be limited to participants and volunteers only, but there is still time to sign up to be either.

We chatted with foundation Executive Director Carrie Reece about the history bee.

First, can you explain the difference between the center itself and the foundation? The foundation is the private nonprofit partner with the Bureau of Land Management. The trails center is a congressionally mandated public-private partnership. The BLM owns the building and facility and provides the staff. The foundation owns all of the exhibits found inside the facility. The foundation, through donations, grants and fundraising, can pay to upgrade, enhance and maintain all of those exhibits. As you can imagine, the exhibits require quite a bit of maintenance because so many are hands-on.

And your job is kind of twofold. I spend lots of time working on maintaining things, for example, repairs to the upholstery in the stagecoach, changing light bulbs in the theater. That’s one part. Then I do fundraising to pay for all of that.

How did you decide on the history bee? It’s something that was floated around when I first started up here in November 2017. We have a board member who is an educator, Bruce Berst, and he wrote questions and had been hoping to do a history bee type of thing. This is our first, but we hope to do it every year. It’s really mission-centered and a family-friendly community event. The board was looking for something to attract new people to come up and get interested in this history.

Where will the questions come from? The staff and board are working together to create the questions. A board member and I went around the entire center and created 27 sample questions. If someone sponsors a team, in your packet you get 27 sample questions. We’re also doing a social media campaign with our Instagram account and everyday we try to post a new question and answer. The hashtag is #NHTCFHistoryBee2019.

So the first round questions are directly off the walls of the center. The second round is a little bit more difficult. If you had a tour with a docent or a BLM interpreter, and there is a book you can flip through, you have to dig a little deeper to find these answers. And then round three would be for real history buffs in case we have a tie we need to break or there is enough time.

You need more teams still? Yes, our goal is to sell 12 teams of eight for $500 per team. We have room for 15, but that’s about all our foyer will hold. We have fifth graders who just graduated from the docent program and history programs from both high schools. We are hoping to have a few families whose children have just gone through the docent program or enjoy history in high school.

And you can also volunteer for the evening? Yes, if you can’t find a team to be on, you can call me and volunteer for the evening for me. Call the foundation office at 265-8030. You don’t have to be an expert in trails history. You could come up and do a tour of the center and be plenty qualified.

And the specifics of the history bee? It’s 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 27. Teams of eight and individuals will compete for the title. A team entry is $500 (eight people) and includes dinner. Individual entries are $75 per person. There will be a nacho bar buffet and a cash bar. Winners will have their names permanently engraved on the rock wall inside the center. It puts you in the legacy of the trails center forever.

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Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS

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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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