March 24, 2010
SHSU Media Contact: Linda Borja
Students in professor Caroline Crimm’s “Public History” class are putting the Sam Houston State University motto, “The Measure of a Life is its Service,” into action, gaining hands-on experience and uniting the community and campus.
The focus for the March American Democracy Project’s Service Learning Spotlight, Crimm has been involved in the program since it started.
“The ADP is a means of trying to get people to become involved in the community, to help with the community, to develop some kind of support for the community,” Crimm said.
Crimm knows the importance of the impact service learning has on a community. She actively and gladly helps with any project that will benefit both the community of Huntsville and the university.
Crimm is a part of several committees such as the Memorial Museum Board, Downtown Cabin Board, Main Street Board, faculty adviser for the Walter P. Webb Historical Society and the sorority Kappa Delta Chi, and volunteer coordinator for the university for the Gen. Sam Houston Folk Festival.
With Crimm as a role model, her students know they will be required to become more involved.
Crimm and her students lend a helping hand in numerous projects, including volunteering with various festivals in Huntsville, moving historic cabins, and with the Huntsville Main Street.
Crimm’s experience with service learning began in 1998 with the Roberts-Farris Cabin of West Sandy Creek Project. The cabin was given to the city as a historical landmark.
At the time Crimm taught two Texas history classes during the summer, and she decided to have the students participate in moving the cabin and restoring it.
“We dismantled the outside of the building and then managed to get some funding to move the cabin into town; then we
restored it, ” said Crimm.
“We had a lot of people helping with the program, and it was fun. That is what got me involved with the Walker County Historical Commission,” Crimm said.
As part of Crimm’s class, students are required to complete at least 25 hours of volunteer service. In addition to the volunteer hours, they are also required to write an extensive essay in which they describe how to put together a festival, write a grant proposal, explain what their demonstration will be, describe the turnout of the event, evaluate the pros and cons of the event and whether they felt it was effective overall.
“Since it is a hands-on course and they actually get out there and learn by doing, it makes a huge difference on their understanding and importance of the subject,” Crimm said.
Crimm and her students actively participate in the Gen. Sam Houston Folk Festival which is held every spring. The folk festival gives visitors a chance to see first hand how life was during Sam Houston’s time. It also gives the community a better understanding of Texas history by displaying reenactments, food, and music of that time, according to Crimm.
Throughout the semester Crimm’s students are taught how to make clothing and toys typical of those in the 1800s. They also learn Dutch oven cooking, furniture restoration, reenactments, cabin building, and grant writing.
The students then use those lessons to create their own costumes, toys, and food for the festival. They also take on the responsibility of assisting and organizing other volunteers.
“The folk festival acts like a final for my students,” Crimm said.
The folk festival is among Crimm’s favorite projects to do, she said.
“It reaches a lot more people throughout the community. The students all enjoy dressing up, playing the part and helping the community learn something about history,” Crimm said.
Crimm and her students also participate annually in the March to the Grave. The tradition of marching from Austin Hall, on campus to Gen. Sam Houston’s grave began in 1889 and ended in 1932, but was brought back in 2001 with the help of Crimm and her students in the Walter P. Webb Historical Society.
“The students are very cooperative and involved in the course. Some of the students who have children will take them to the different programs,” Crimm said.
Crimm’s service to the community continues to grow with every class she teaches.
“It makes it so much more entertaining and so much more interesting to learn about history by actively participating in the community, especially in Huntsville which is rich in Texas history,” said Crimm.
This year’s folk festival will be held April 30 through May 2 on the Sam Houston Memorial Museum grounds.
For more information about volunteering for the annual folk festival, contact Crimm at 936.294.1487 or email@example.com.
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Monday, May 3
Tuesday, May 4
"The measure of a Life is its Service."