Krystyna Karr - Conner Prairie Volunteer
In past years, Jane Hetrick, a former Conner Prairie employee, encouraged me to consider volunteering
, telling me that with my interests, it would be a good match. She knew how important service is to me and how volunteering has been a critical component in my life. With a background in education and a history of working with families and children, the opportunities available were appealing, and as I could be selective of the events and the positions, it would provide flexibility and avoid over scheduling.
When my schedule opened a little over a year ago, I completed the process; getting started was easy, one application, a background check, and orientation. Arlene and Jody at Conner Prairie made the process seamless, and when that first volunteer flier arrived, it was Headless Horseman
sign-up time. Taking advantage of the descriptions listed, I signed up for a few different positions so I could get some variety. After that event, I realized what Jane had been telling me.
It was a wonderful experience from that first day. I was blessed to meet people who had been volunteering for years, and they welcomed me openly. The staff provided clear instruction, and while they were “old pros” at what to expect, they, too, respected my newness. The children’s anticipation of the hayrides, families bouncing at the gates, and the stories circulating of what to expect resonated. After that, signing up was not a question but more of, “How can I help?” As long as my work and personal schedule allowed, I decided to give as much time as I could. I have been fortunate to assist with special events (Follow the North Star
, Headless Horseman, Civil War Days
, Symphony on the Prairie, Country Fair
, Conner Prairie by Candlelight
) other ongoing positions (school groups, new member orientation, free days, opening of Civil War Journey Raid on Indiana
), and, of course, the Conner Prairie Store
To say that I enjoyed one over another would be a lie, but I am not a believer in small roles. Each one has unique qualities, and the guests that choose to come to the different events make it worthwhile. Interacting with guests is more than just part of what I expected to do. Hearing how far they have travelled, learning about their lives, and sharing in their experience on the grounds/at the event, only make me want to help provide them the best time possible. And the more time I spend on the grounds, the easier it is to serve. The attention to detail in historical accuracy, the passion and knowledge of the staff, and the opportunities for the guests continue to impress me.
I mean it when I tell people that CP is a labor of love, and I seldom have met a staff person who acts as if this is just a job. I am ashamed to say I think I get more out of Conner Prairie than it gets from me! While other volunteer opportunities have crossed my path, I know where I will continue to serve. Conner Prairie can have my time and service as long as they want it.
Leslie Morgan - Conner Prairie Alliance President
What little girl doesn’t love to play “store”? Those of us in the Conner Prairie Alliance
take playing “store” very seriously for nine weeks every fall in the Apple Store
. We stock our shelves with candy, great housewares, gourmet food mixes, and fresh apples and cider from northern Indiana. The store is abuzz with customers out front six days a week while several members are in the back room dipping the best caramel apples around! There’s also plenty of serious fun!
We are astounded every year at the sales generated in our little country store, where the majority of products sell for less than $5. We so appreciate our faithful customers who make it a fall tradition to stop in while visiting Conner Prairie or make a special trip for that taste-of-fall after-school snack. It’s hard to believe that during September and October we sold 6,808 cider slushies, 8,612 donuts, 708 jars of apple butter and 15,942 caramel apples!
Little did I know four years ago when I joined that I would be serving as president of this dynamic group of women who work all year long to prepare for the opening of the Apple Store. It has been an honor to be among these dedicated and energetic women who are passionate about Conner Prairie. Each woman brings her own talents to the operation: from merchandising, inventory tracking, training, marketing, meeting planning and member recruitment, to apple dipping and customer service. Those talents come together to form a team committed to raising funds and supporting the museum.
As our year winds down, we’re celebrating another successful store season. It has been a lot of fun, but so much more than play when we can present a check for $85,000 to the museum to help advance educational and entertaining experiences that make Conner Prairie the jewel of our community! We thank you, our customers, for your support and look forward to seeing you next fall!