Drawing on its experience teaching children spinning, broom making and other traditional arts, Carroll County Farm Museum hopes to develop a rural heritage program for county students that would allow them to experience what farm life was like a century ago.
"We are an educational facility. Our mission is to teach people about Carroll's rural heritage," museum Administrator Dottie Freeman said. "For years, it has been my dream, my goal, to have children spend a day at the museum and learn through first-hand experience what is was like to live on a farm in the 1800s."
The farm museum took a step toward reaching that goal in October, when Pat Brodowski was hired as its historian educator. In addition to recruiting student guides and musicians for the museum, Brodowski has been asked to work with the Carroll County Board of Education on Freeman's vision of a rural heritage program.
"Most likely, it would be a daylong series of three or four workshops that would give students an immersion experience - like cooking over the fire and spinning, or swinging a scythe and pulling husk off corn," said Brodowski, who would like to tailor the program to middle school pupils.
"I'd like the program to fit in with their studies," she added. "While they're learning about American history, we could show them old farm equipment that ran on steam or teach them about cogs and wheels, which would involve a discussion of diameters and ratios. There's a lot we could offer. Really, what we include in the program will depend on the school system's needs."
Brodowski is searching for a grant to support the program and plans to meet with school officials about the proposal.
"We are aware of their very commendable interest in having the farm museum become more involved in learning opportunities for children, but no specific plans have been made," said Dorothy Mangle, the county's assistant superintendent for instruction.
Brodowski said it could take several years to get the program up and running. Until then, the farm museum will continue to offer students tours, she said.
Housed in a building that was once a poorhouse, the farm museum opened in 1966 and attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year. It once included an apple orchard, smokehouse, broom shop, blacksmith building and several barns. Corn and small-grain crops were planted around the museum.
Many of the original structures, which date to the 1850s, still stand. Corners are filled with artifacts, including tools and farm equipment donated by Landon C. Burns, the museum's first curator.