Fulfilling the Promise: Feb. 23 Event Highlights Promise Indiana Program

I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on a number of impactful stories during my time at the Indiana Chamber and as part of the BizVoice® magazine team. One of the favorites was helping introduce the Promise Indiana program in 2015.

In the last year, the number of students with Promise college savings accounts has increased from 5,000 to over 10,000, with deposit activity going from $800,000 to more than $2.7 million. These are not only providing dollars but incentives for young people to realize the postsecondary dream.

What started in Wabash County now has 14 counties activated. An additional 14 are applying to participate. Learn more.

Local efforts are what make Promise programs successful, with community foundations and business leaders part of the success equation. An upcoming event – the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance’s Promise Indiana Deep Dive Day – explains how it works.

Conner Prairie is the location. February 23 is the date. The event is free, but registration is required. Details and registration.

Celebrate Craft Beer and History at Conner Prairie; Early Bird Tickets Now Available!

May 30 will mark the third annual installment of Conner Prairie’s popular History on Tap craft beer event.

The event is the brainchild of the Conner Prairie Horizon Council — the museum’s young professionals council, which I’m proud to say I’m involved with.

Last year’s event drew 700 people, and we expect even more this year. Furthermore, the 2014 edition will feature craft brewing demonstrations, historical beer tastings, food, music from the Bleeding Keys and Reid and Tim. Guests can also venture out and mingle with the citizens of Prairietown after hours (and those should be lively conversations considering the enjoyable cast of characters that roam Conner Prairie’s grounds each week).

One-fourth (that’s 20 out of 80) of Indiana’s brewing companies will be represented at the event. (Yes, you read that right.) Returning brewery partners include Upland, Flat12, Sun King, Thr3e Wise Men, Barley Island, Union Brewing, Bier Brewery, Triton, Three Pints, New Day and Fountain Square. And a host of new partners will be represented as well: Cartel Brewing, Scarlet Lane, Indiana City Brewing, Bloomington Brewing Co., Brugge, Outliers, Daredevil, Books & Brew, and Broad Ripple Brewpub — and others!

I’ll go ahead and make a personal promise as well: If you come, you’re going to have a good time. Feedback from 2012-13 was overwhelmingly positive — and we’ve incorporated constructive suggestions into making this year’s event even better.

Also, be sure to get your tickets now to take advantage of early bird pricing. History on Tap is for adults 21 years old and up — and tickets for designated drivers are heavily discounted. See you there!

Holiday Cheers: Conner Prairie Introduces Dec. 12 Event for Adults

Get into the holiday spirit at Conner Prairie’s brand-new, adults-only event, “Holiday Cheers,” presented by the Conner Prairie Horizon Council, the organization’s young professionals group.

Holiday Cheers offers an elegant evening of hors d’oeuvres, wine and craft beer. After enjoying food and drinks, guests will be invited to take an evening candlelit stroll through 1836 Prairietown to experience how various holidays were celebrated in the past.

Savor food from Bistro 226, wines from Douglas Hills, craft beer from Sun King and outside, a sampling of sausage from Smoking Goose, all while networking and enjoying the company of other guests.

Holiday Cheers runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12. The outdoor candlelit experience is open from 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Visitors can sample beer from Union Brewing Company, participate in sausage-making demonstrations from 1836, live it up during the party at the Campbell home, and discover the different cultures and traditions of holiday cheer in the 19th century.

Back inside, guests can explore Conner Prairie’s Create.Connect exhibit that features hands-on, interactive fun for all ages centered on electricity, motion and energy. Guests will also enjoy strolling through Gingerbread Village as they marvel at the gingerbread creations from professionals and novices alike.

To memorialize the experience, a free photo booth – complete with props and festive costumes – will bring friends, old and new, together in laughter.

Canned Food Drive
Bring a canned good or non-perishable food item to be entered into a raffle contest to win a two tickets to Conner Prairie’s Hearthside Suppers. Hearthside Suppers offers guests the unique opportunity to help make and enjoy a multiple-course 19th-century meal. The prize is worth more than $120. All proceeds from the canned food drive will benefit Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank, Inc.

How to Participate
Tickets are $35 per person and can be purchased online. Tickets will also be available at the door but space is limited, so purchase your tickets in advance. For more information, call (317) 776-6006, email [email protected], visit connerprairie.org, like Conner Prairie and the Horizon Council on Facebook or follow on Twitter @ConnerPrairie with hashtag #HolidayCheersCP.

Beer Lovers: Conner Prairie’s History on Tap Back for Another Year

Conner Prairie’s Horizon Council (the interactive history park's young professionals group, of which I am a proud member) will host its second annual History on Tap craft beer event on Friday, May 31. Comments from attendees last year were extremely positive, and we're able to grow the event this year, as well. However, tickets will be capped at 500, so you'll want to buy early — and take advantage of the early bird pricing.

History on Tap 2013 will include:

  • Beer samples from 11 Hoosier breweries
  • A panel discussion: "Brewer Innovation: A Taste of the Past, Present & Future"
  • Craft brewing demonstration by Tuxedo Park Brewers, featuring a "Replicale"
  • An evening adventure through 1836 Prairietown
  • Food available at an additional cost for general admission tickets, included for VIP tickets
  • Discounted rate for the 1859 Balloon Voyage (weather permitting)

“We are proud to partner with Conner Prairie and award-winning, local breweries to present this signature event,” explains Robby Slaughter, Horizon Council president. “History on Tap is designed to provide an interactive experience that celebrates the rich heritage of craft beer making in Indiana and to engage a new demographic of visitors by giving them a taste of what Conner Prairie has to offer.”

Order your tickets now!

Conner Prairie History on Tap: Think While You Drink

The craft beer explosion in Indiana over the last few years has been downright euphoric for those of us who enjoy beer brewed with care. Conner Prairie’s Horizon Council (a group for young professionals — to which I belong, actually) will be putting a new spin on the movement on June 15 when it hosts "History on Tap" at Conner Prairie. 

The event will feature beers from Sun King Brewing, Bier Brewery, Upland Brewing Co. and Fountain Square Brew, among others. Additionally, Douglas Wissing, author of Indiana: One Pint at a Time, will be on hand to speak about the history of brewing in Indiana. Wissing was featured in the 2011 article in BizVoice about Indiana’s microbrew industry, "Taste of Success: Local Craft Brewers Building an Industry."

You can register for the event here.

American Students Lack Basic Historical Knowledge

As a fan of history, and a strong believer that a key to progressing forward is a firm grasp of the past, this article in the Wall Street Journal concerns me. As a general plea, I’d just like to remind parents and teachers to take advantage of the wonderful resources we have in the state, including Conner Praire, the Indiana Historical Society, the Benjamin Harrison Home, the governmental and Civil War history in Corydon, etc.:

The results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that U.S. schoolchildren have made little progress since 2006 in their understanding of key historical themes, including the basic principles of democracy and America’s role in the world.

Only 20% of U.S. fourth-graders and 17% of eighth-graders who took the 2010 history exam were "proficient" or "advanced," unchanged since the test was last administered in 2006. Proficient means students have a solid understanding of the material.

The news was even more dire in high school, where 12% of 12th-graders were proficient, unchanged since 2006. More than half of all seniors posted scores at the lowest achievement level, "below basic." While the nation’s fourth- and eighth-graders have seen a slight uptick in scores since the exam was first administered in 1994, 12th-graders haven’t.

One bright spot in the data was the performance of African-American and Hispanic students in fourth and eighth grades. The average score of Hispanic fourth-graders jumped to 198 last year, versus 175 in 1994, which helped shrink the gap with their white counterparts. In eighth grade, black students improved to 250 points in 2010 from 238 in 1994. At the fourth-grade level, the gap between Hispanic and white students was 39 points in 1994 and 26 points in 2010. In eighth grade, the black-white gap narrowed to 23 points in 2010 from 28 in 1994.

The overall lackluster performance is certain to revive the debate about whether history and other subjects, such as science and art, are being pushed out of the curriculum because of the focus on math and reading demanded under the No Child Left Behind federal education law. The federal law mandates that students be tested in math and reading.

New Conner Prairie Exhibit Brings Indiana Civil War History to Life

Conner Prairie (Fishers), an Indiana Chamber member and an organization I’m proud to be affiliated with via its Horizon Council, just announced a new exhibit and massive undertaking launching in June. Though Indiana is not often thought of as a site for Civil War battles, anyone whose traveled to Corydon knows Hoosiers of the day were privy to one major scare courtesy of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan. Now, visitors can be part of an interactive experience telling the story of this event. The Indy Star reports:

A $4.3 million Civil War exhibit, unveiled Wednesday, is the museum’s newest way to present history.

The "1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana," opening June 4, will integrate technology with Conner Prairie’s first-person interpretation in an outdoor setting to create a new kind of guest experience focused on personal stories during the Civil War in Indiana. Conner Prairie’s largest exhibit, at 8,800 square feet, it will use projected images, video, theatrical sound, staging, hands-on experiences and live action to bring the drama of Civil War Indiana to life.

"It’s going to be an experience like none other in the country, and maybe even in the world," said Ellen Rosenthal, Conner Prairie’s president and chief executive officer.
The museum, on 850 acres at 13400 Allisonville Road, offers programs designed to engage and connect people of all ages and backgrounds with one another and the past.

The new exhibit will tell the story of Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry raid through Dupont during July 1863. The characters in the exhibit are based on real people who lived in Indiana during the Civil War when Morgan’s Raiders invaded.

"It’s the most important Civil War event ever to occur on Indiana soil," Rosenthal said.

The exhibit posed three challenges: to re-create Morgan’s raid with 2,500 cavalry over and over again daily, to make visitors feel part of the experience and to make the experience engaging for the entire family, not just for military history buffs.

Dan Freas, the museum’s vice president of guest experiences, said "Civil War Journey" doesn’t rely on an increase in staff.

"That’s where technology comes into play," he said. The exhibit incorporates theatrical wizardry that includes interactive video, special effects, lighting, sound and costumed interpreters "to provide that sense of excitement."

Conner Prairie Garners International Honor

"What are these iPods you speak of? Do you grow peas in them?"

If you’re like me, each time you visit Conner Prairie, you end up trying to fool the blacksmith’s apprentice or a shop clerk into offering an anachronistic reply of some sort. And each time, their unbreakable collective savvy sends you home with nary a victory — just an abundance of good times, new knowledge and a mouthful of rock candy. But today we give high praise to the interactive historical museum in Fishers (and Indiana Chamber member) for its own victory in earning the International Association of Amusement Park and Attractions Spirit of Excellence Award for guest services training. Strong work by one of Indiana’s true gems:

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park is among an elite, international group of award winners from the International Association of Amusement Park and Attractions (IAAPA). At this year’s IAAPA Attractions Expo last week in Las Vegas, Conner Prairie was given the Spirit of Excellence award for Best Guest Services Training Program. This award recognizes an IAAPA member-facility that is dedicated to excellence in training.

Conner Prairie won this award for its “Opening Doors to Great Guest Experiences” training resource, which is based on transformative guest research, documented best practices from the attractions industry and information-learning principles. Opening Doors is shared through video analysis of staff/guest interaction, guest feedback, guest motives and learning styles, providing front-line staff with knowledge and skills to facilitate memorable learning experiences. Since implementing Opening Doors in 2003, the average guest visit has extended from three to four hours and Conner Prairie’s attendance has increased by 47.5 percent. Additionally, museums and other attractions in all 50 states and more than a dozen countries have implemented the Conner Prairie training program through a DVD/CD-ROM resource created by the park.

Government Book a Tremendous Tool for Students, Historians, Those with Time on Their Hands

Are you an educator who’s worried that your students think Johnny Appleseed was Indiana’s first governor? Do they believe Jefferson County was named after Weezie? Or are you concerned your pupils might perceive John Mellencamp as their state representative? Granted, "the Coug" is a staple around these parts, but as of yet he only sings at political events; he doesn’t campaign at them.

If any of these are true, then you have a Stage Five educational emergency. Any medical apprentice at Conner Prairie will tell you the traditional remedy for this has long been the Indiana Chamber’s Here Is Your Indiana Government book. Since its development in 1942, this book has been used by the community and hundreds of thousands of students at all levels to learn about Indiana and how Hoosiers govern themselves. It’s ideal for political and government teachers looking to add to their curriculum in the fall semester.

As Mr. Mellencamp poetically put it, "this is our country." So let’s all do our part by learning about it.