GERING — Dave Wolf was officially introduced as the new executive director of Legacy of the Plains Museum at a news conference on Wednesday.
“It’s the museum board and the staff that do the tough work,” Wolf said. “Now I just need to let people know what a great museum we have here.”
Although his formal education is in political science and international relations, Wolf said he’s been interested in history and sharing those stories with others for much of his life.
For the past eight years, he worked in public relations and education with the North Platte Natural Resources District. Each year, he talked with about 4,000 students about water conservation issues. Starting with a small program, he grew the NRD presentations to a statewide recognized program.
“I want to continue those presentations here at Legacy of the Plains,” he said. “This is a great learning place for all ages and I want to make sure people know about us.”
Wolf added that people can sometimes see history as boring, especially when they’re sitting a classroom. But the museum experience gives them the opportunity to see history firsthand and dive into the subject and picture themselves as a part of that history.
Wolf has also spent about five years on the Scotts Bluff Area Tourism Board, which he said opened his eyes to the tourism opportunities the area offers to visitors.
“We have one of the best museums in the entire region and I want to get people returning more than just once or twice,” he said. "There’s so much different history here, from agriculture to early settlement to Native American history and the early pioneers. There’s something for everyone to enjoy here.”
One of the popular activities Wolf mentioned is “Puzzles of the Past.” People gather at the museum once a month for coffee and to look over some of the museum’s archival photos to determine what the pictures reveal. Recently, the group looked over several historic photos from the community of Henry.
The museum currently has two history related programs geared toward kindergartners and fourth grade students. Those fit in with the social studies curriculum being taught in the schools.
When new curriculum standards are updated next year, Wolf said he’ll see where the museum can offer new programs that supplement those new guidelines.
Wolf also wants to re-establish some living history presentations. “I think living history is a way for people to encapsulate themselves in that time,” he said. “It helps them understand what was going on at the time.”
As social media becomes a more important tool for publicizing events, Wolf wants to take better advantage of those opportunities to tell the museum’s story to a wider audience.
A number of events are coming up soon at Legacy of the Plains Museum. On Saturday, July 13, is the Oregon Trails Barbecue from noon to 2 p.m. Tickets are $5.
The annual Harvest Festival is scheduled for September. On Aug. 24 is the Oregon Trail Wagon Train for a ribeye steak dinner and entertainment by Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band.
Legacy of the Plains Museum is located west of Gering on Old Oregon Trail, on the way to Scotts Bluff National Monument. For more information, call 308-436-1989.