Althea is a recent graduate with a degree in history and anthropology from Vermont’s Green Mountain College who lives and works in Newport, Rhode Island. The East Coaster discovered HistoriCorps just this year and enjoyed her first experience at Rourke Ranch so much that she signed up for two more projects this summer (Grouse Ridge and Skinner Ranch) and hopes to volunteer again next year. The 22-year-old has done quite a bit of traveling internationally and loves the appeal of all the US travel she can do with HistoriCorps. She hopes to head to the Western states next year, volunteering with HC along the way. We asked Althea a few questions to learn more about her:
How did you first hear about HistoriCorps?
“I found about HistoriCorps while searching for an internship online. I hope to go to grad school for historic preservation so I was looking for something to give me some experience in the field. The summer internship popped up on a search engine and I thought to myself, “I can’t really up and move to Denver, but this is perfect!” so I signed up for my first project that day.”
So far I’ve volunteered for two projects: Rourke Ranch in southeastern Colorado, and Grouse Ridge in Tahoe National Forest, CA. I signed up for Rourke Ranch because I’ve wanted to visit Colorado for a long time and because of the awesome dinosaur footprints right near the project. I signed up for Grouse Ridge because the views from the top of the fire lookout were unbelievably beautiful, and I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to travel to the other coast.
Did you have any restoration experience before joining a project?
“I had no experience with construction or restoration at all before volunteering. During my sophomore year of college I read a really interesting article about the historic buildings China had bulldozed to build facilities for the summer Olympics and that was the first thing that got me interested in preservation. HistoriCorps has given me the hands-on experience that I needed to confirm that this is what I’m really passionate about and what I want to do with my life.”
“I think my favorite experience on a project so far was hearing stories from the Aragon brothers at Rourke Ranch. The two brothers had grown up on the ranch and had so many funny, scary, and interesting stories to tell, from finding snakes in the chicken coop to hunting rabbits with the few bullets their father would allot them each. Hearing their stories really brought the history of the buildings to life and made the work feel that much more meaningful.”
“I have met so many interesting and kind people on just my two projects! As a 22-year-old woman I’m usually one of the youngest on a project and one of the few females, but this hasn’t hindered me in meeting awesome people. Everyone has different backgrounds and experiences and I love getting to know the other volunteers. My favorite supervisor so far was Steve on the Rourke Ranch project. He had the perfect balance of being goofy and fun along with being knowledgeable and a great leader.”
What advice would you give to a future volunteer?
“My advice to a future volunteer would be to just do it! When I signed up for my first project I had no idea what to expect, and no idea how to make it from Rhode Island to Colorado. But I made it happen and it was one of the best experiences of my life. If you are interested in history, architecture, the outdoors, construction, meeting new people, or just supporting a great cause, then HistoriCorps is for you!
HistoriCorps has been truly awesome and I’m so glad to be a part of it!”