By Dave Woods • Official Kids Mag
With more than five years under her belt as Shiloh Museum’s education manager, Judy Costello is still having fun.
“I get to interact with kids,” she said. “I get to help them learn and bring history to life. I get to see them growing up. I have some kids who have been here over five years and I’ve watched them go through different programs and help me with volunteering. I’ve seen them go from being a shy child to a confident older person.”
Shiloh Museum, part of the City of Springdale, preserves local history and offers programs for cultural enrichment for kids and adults. This May, Shiloh celebrates its 50th anniversary serving the residents of Northwest Arkansas.
“To see how it has grown in just the last five years is gratifying,” she said. “To read about it and how it has grown over the last fifty years is amazing.”
There is a lot planned. Much of it wouldn’t be possible without kid and adult volunteers.
“I accept anybody who is interested in helping out,” she explained. “I’m always looking for people who are interested in helping children learn. They might just dress up in costume, or they might help hand out supplies. Some kids can lead groups from one station to another. Before you know it, they are learning scripts and presenting.”
Judy is constantly reinforcing to her young volunteers and students who visit the museum the concept that history is important.
“That’s what we build on,” she stressed. “We build on our history and then we go from there. If you know what your history is, and where the people in your community come from, it helps you to grow and feel more confident moving forward.”
Shiloh kids keeping history alive
Yahya Sridjajamerta, Henry Freeman and Kyla Cross love local history, and the Shiloh Museum in Springdale.
“There are so many cool things from the past and there are fun activities,” Yahya, an 8-year-old Fayetteville kid, said. “I get to learn about people’s lives and it’s exciting. I’ve learned about paleontology, insects and much more.”
With countless interactive activities, Shiloh can keep a inquisitive kid, like Yahya, busy.
“It’s not boring,” the Leverett Elementary School student said. There is lots of cool stuff you can learn. I made apple cider here before. Henry (Freeman) and me were in a collection competition and both of us learned to make origami.”
Henry, a homeschooled 8-year-old from Springdale, and friend of Yahya, also thinks Shiloh is a lot of fun.
“There is a lot of stuff to do,” he explained. “I like volunteering here. I like getting badges and seeing all of the exhibits. I like helping make our community a better community.”
Being devoted to improving your community is important, but there has to be some fun involved.
“I do Civil War dancing,” he added. “I thought it was fun to dance around and learn new dances. I probably most like Soldier’s Joy or The Gay Gordon. I do both. It’s good to know where you came from.”
Kyla Cross, a 12-year-old homeschool student, comes to Shiloh Museum fairly often.
“I like coming here to teach people history,” she said. “We can learn from our history. Mostly how time fits together. We learn about different events separately, but it’s interesting to see how things have changed over the years and how it’s so seamless.”
Kyla particularly enjoys learning about local history.
“Ozark history is so interesting,” she explained. “There is such a mixture of different cultures and people. It’s interesting to find out how people got here, all of their traditions and the culture they have.”
Moms thankful for Shiloh as an educational resource
All three kids’ moms are happy their families found the Shiloh Museum. They regularly take advantage of the museum’s free programs and family friendly activities.
Keukeu Abdullah, Yahya’s mom, has been a U.S. resident for 17 years. She wants her son to know as much about local history as possible.
“He is very busy with Boy Scouts, Four-H and sports,” she said. “One time we came here because he was interested in insects and they had an event for families. My son loved it. Every month we check their calendar for family friendly events. If we don’t have conflicts, we come. I think he needs to learn about the history of the area.”
Henry’s mom, Abigail Freeman, enjoys homeschooling her kids. She is thankful for the resources Shiloh provides.
“Miss Judy is in charge of the education department,” she said. “There are so many educational activities. That’s how Henry got started volunteering. We came to some programs and he saw what it was all about. He learned so much that he wanted to show other kids the programs.”
Getting to interact with other Shiloh kids has been great for Henry, but he’s learned a lot of practical skills too.
“He volunteers and he demonstrates pioneer chores,” Abigail said. “He’ll show people how to use a spinning wheel and how to wash clothes before there was electricity. If we ever lose electricity, we will be good. Henry can just do everything.”
Rebecca Cross, Kyla’s mom, likes Shiloh because of the hands-on activities and exhibits.
“We love coming to the different programs they offer,” she said. “The dressing up and interactive exhibits are cool. It’s a great place to come and learn about the history of our area. The staff is kid friendly and they encouraged kids to touch things.”
Rebecca, a Northwest Arkansas native, thinks the museum is great for adults who may not be as familiar with the area.
“A lot of people in Northwest Arkansas are not from here,” she said. “Even the ones that are may not realize the history of the area. I didn’t know about all of the orchards here. I knew about Tyson and the chickens, but I didn’t know about the orchards and fruit the area produced. I learned that here.”