Fort Larned NHS – Fort Larned National Historic Site celebrated Latino Conservation Week with a very special and very fun Living History Event this past weekend. The Fort provided interpretive programs to connect the public with the story of Latinos that spent time at the Fort during their commercial travels on the Santa Fe Trail from 1859 to 1878. The event also emphasized the importance of environmental stewardship by creating a gigantic Monarch Butterfly habitat. Kids of all ages launched one thousand Butterflyweed Milkweed Seedballs into the prairie as a Mariachi band played.
“Fort Larned wanted to have this remarkable event because we want our youth to enjoy their beautiful outdoor historic spaces,” said organizer Sienna Cordoba from the Latino Heritage Internship Program. “These public lands belong to all of us. Once we have visited these amazing and off of the beaten path places, seen the wildlife, learned the history, we know we must act to protect these lands, the air and water for future generations.” Twenty-five kids became brand new Fort Larned Junior Rangers Saturday!
Mariachi Los Reyes from Wichita and the Ballet Folklorico from Great Bend High School combined Living History forces with the Fort’s Blacksmiths and Officers’ Wives to portray a vibrant and diverse 1868 for visitors.
Naturalist Barry Jones, Park Ranger Ellen Jones and the Barton County Conservation District led educational nature conservation activities.
“It was very exciting for the District to be invited to be a part of the event and get a chance to work with a minority group, and we hope to get more opportunities to do so,” Barton County Conservation District Manager Sara Martinz said.
Kids broke open geodes and owl pellets, made pollinator and butterfly crafts, and learned a lot about what we can do to protect our local environment.
“It was a fabulous representation of Hispanic culture,” said Park Ranger Celeste Dixon from Fort Larned National Historic Site. “We were very excited to be able to highlight our connection to Hispanic history in this area.”
Launched in 2014 by the Hispanic Access Foundation, Latino Conservation Week, which runs July 13 – 21, was celebrated with more than 150 events across the country last year. This is the first time Fort Larned has participated in Latino Conservation Week.
Fort Larned National Historic Site is located six miles west of Larned on Kansas Highway 156. Information on visiting is on the internet at www.nps.gov/fols, or by calling 620-285-6911, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on area tourism partners, lodging, dining, and community services go to www.larnedks.org or call (620) 285-6916.