More than three dozen high school students from across Washington state visited Whidbey Island in July to get a hands-on lesson in historic preservation.
Those 40 students, some of whom came as far away as Spokane, visited Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve to help out with several preservation projects and tour the area to learn about the history of Central Whidbey Island.
The high-schoolers were particpating in the Discover Washington Youth Heritage Project that took place July 16-19. The excursion was sponsored by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service and the Washington State Department of Archaelogy and Historic Preservation.
One group of students spent a Thursday afternoon learning how to remove and repair a window at the Ferry House, which is located off Ebey Road near the shoreline.
“It was a great opportunity to help the community and that is why I came out,” said Lexie Williams, who is from Tieton, Wash., located near Yakima.
Fellow student Micah Crawford, who is from Spokane, said it was interesting to get a hands-on lesson in historic preservation and to learn about local history as opposed to national history that he gets in the classroom. He discovered the Youth Heritage Project through his involvement with National History Day.
While Williams and Crawford were busy making repairs that was needed to protect the windows from the elements, other students were learning how to make cedar shakes from a block of wood.
Other groups spent the afternoon helping with projects at the Perkins house located on Ebey Road, Sherman Farm and Rosehip Farm, said Chris Moore, field director with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.
The hands-on work was only part of the students’ adventure on Whidbey Island. They toured Fort Casey to learn about Central Whidbey’s military history; witnessed the area’s agriculture producation with visits to Willowwood and 3 Sisters Beef farms; and learned about the Pacific Rim Institute’s efforts to save a native prairie remnant.
Prior to working at historic buildings, the teenagers toured downtown Coupeville and Penn Cove Shellfish.
“They are learning about the historic and rural character of Whidbey Island,” said Jennifer Meisner, executive director for the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. A group of students in 2012 toured the Yakima Valley and Mount Rainier to learn about the area’s Latin American heritage and examine ways to increase visitors from under-represented communities.
Once this year’s group of student preservationists finished their visits, they participated in a town-hall-style meeting where they presented ideas to preserve and maintain the historic and rural character of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.