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1. Conner Prairie Interactive History Park

Press Contact: Heather Richey 317-776-6000 ext. 163
richey@connerprairie.org

Web Site: www.connerprairie.org

Pictured: Sara Keeney, Community Member; Dr. Patrick Lopez, Director; and Mrs. Obama.
Pictured: Randy French, Community Member; Ellen Rosenthal, Director; and Mrs. Obama. Click image to access high-resolution version.

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park is an outdoor living history museum renowned for its innovative approach to learning. It offers diverse programs that are designed to engage and connect people of all ages and backgrounds – with each other and the past – on 200 beautiful wooded acres.

Always exploring fresh new ways to help guests better engage in history as a living reality, Conner Prairie designed Opening Doors, an innovative training program for front-line staff. Opening Doors was the 2009 winner of an international prize from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions for the best guest services training approach, now being replicated by museums and attractions worldwide.

Follow the North Star is Conner Prairie’s most acclaimed immersion program. Participants gain first-hand perspective on the Underground Railroad as fugitive slaves fleeing from captivity at night, on the park’s 850-acre campus. Participants search for safe houses while being pursued by slave hunters. Many guests describe the evening as "transformative."

Conner Prairie views this engagement as an essential component of the visitor’s experience, and serves as a gathering place for all to celebrate and explore the nation’s history in a safe and welcoming environment.

U.S. Representative Dan Burton (IN-05) "I was proud to nominate Conner Prairie and am thrilled to hear they will receive the National Medal for Museum Service. Whether you take the 1859 Balloon Voyage, enjoy Symphony on the Prairie, or learn about American history through interactive events, there is no doubt about the exceptional services that Conner Prairie provides to the thousands of kids and families who visit the museum each year. I applaud Conner Prairie’s staff and supporters, whose dedication and extraordinary contributions to our community have earned one of the most distinguished awards available to an American museum."

Congressman Burton nominated Conner Prairie for this award.

U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar (IN) "Congratulations to Conner Prairie on winning a 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Conner Prairie Interactive History Park provides Hoosiers with invaluable access to Indiana history, education, and many special exhibitions through art, athletics, artifacts and the natural environment. Conner Prairie is truly one of a kind and very deserving of this prestigious honor."

U.S. Senator Evan Bayh (IN) "I congratulate Conner Prairie on receiving the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. One of only 10 institutions in the country to win this prestigious award, Conner Prairie was singled out for its innovative approach to engaging visitors in a living history of Indiana and the United States. This award recognizes what thousands of Hoosiers already know: Conner Prairie is the perfect destination for an enriching, enjoyable and informative experience."

Community Member Randy French
A desire to read sparks community involvement

Randy French was 47-years-old and did not know how to read when he reached out to Indy Reads, an Indianapolis-based adult literacy organization. He grew up in Indianapolis, never attended school, and was raised by his grandparents who did not read well either.

In 2001, Indy Reads and Conner Prairie Interactive History Park began collaborating to engage literacy students in a series of experiences at the museum. Randy was an early participant and after his first trip, he helped plan the outings. Randy also assisted in recruiting other students and eventually became an unofficial guide for new students.

Today, Randy leads the Indy Reads Student Orientation for new students. He says that learning to read is about more than words in a book but also being an active community member. Since participating in the Conner Prairie project, Randy has also become active in his church and is a board member at Indy Reads. He visits museums, participates in cultural activities, and contributes to his community in many ways.