(Story and Photo by Amy Wilson)
NeWP held its Summer Rural Institute this past summer in North Platte. Sixteen K-12 teachers from 12 Western Nebraska school participated. Sharon Bishop (Heartland Community, Henderson) and Amy Wilson (Aurora Elementary) co-facilitated.
We met for two weeks in June on the campus of Mid-Plains Community College. What a beautiful host site! Anne Schmidt, our community liaison, was a tremendous help to all of us, making sure our food, lodging, and technology needs were met. Anne also invited local authors to our vist our institute and speak with participants. We were honored to have Keith Blackledge and Diane Wetzel, from the North Platte Telegraph, share about their own writing lives and read excerpts from books they have published.
Following the tradition and philosophy of a rural institute, our group went on several field trips. Our goal was to immerse ourselves in the people, places, and culture of North Platte. On the first day, we visited Scout's Rest Ranch, the home of Buffalo Bill. Later in the week, we wrote and reflected on the banks of the North Platte River at Cody Park -- even went on a carousel ride while we were there! We also took a scenic drive to Fort McPherson National Cemetery, toured Lincoln County Historical Museum where we were particulary fascinated by the Canteen exhibit, perused through many shelves and stacks of books at the local A to Z Bookstore, and some attended an evening rodeo event that kicked off North Platte's infamous NebraskaLand Days.
We look forward to seeing each other again this fall. Our first gathering is scheduled for Saturday, October 13. During this time, teachers will share their EQUIP presentations.