I recently had a chance to catch up with one of our recent graduates, Jessye Bostwick. She graduated in December 2011 and is currently working at a 19th century living history farm in Tennessee. Here is my short interview with Jessye. –JF
JF: When did you graduate from Messiah and what was your major?
Jessye: I graduated in Dec. 2011 with a major in Humanities, with concentrations in History, Communications, and Children and Youth Services.
JF: What is your current job/internship, how did you land it, and what does it entail?
Jessye: My current job is a year-log apprenticeship position at The Homeplace 1850, a living history farm in Tennessee. I found the position on the website of the Association of Living History, Farm, and Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM). I had been volunteering this past spring at Howell Living History Farm in New Jersey, which is where I learned about ALHFAM.
My job at the farm is an interpretive position. We demonstrate many of the daily activities of 1850’s farm life– such as cooking on a wood-burning stove, piecing quilts, or spinning wool — as visitors walk around the farm and ask questions. I wear period clothing but I do not speaking in first person; talking in third person allows us to explain similarities and differences between past and present. I have also had the opportunity to lead school group, which entails a more structured program. During the winter when the farm is closed to the public, I will participate in the continued care of the farm animals, taking inventory, and program planning for the following season.
JF: How has your Messiah College history education helped you in this job?
Jessye: Although I did not study much mid-19th Century American history, which would directly apply to the 1850’s farm, having a background in history has helped me in placing this snapshot of the American past in a broader context. It has also been helpful to have strong research skills and to be able to create programs for visitors based on sound historical documentation. Even though a living history farm is an informal learning environment, our goal as interpreters is to provide the most accurate information possible. The attention to scholarly integrity that I learned at Messiah has been a great help in trying to attain that goal and inspire visitors through the story of the past that The Homeplace 1850 shares.
JF: What are your future plans?
Jessye: I plan to finish out my year here in Tennessee. I have begun to apply for graduate schools for next fall. The field of museum studies and informal learning has really intrigued me, and I hope to be accepted to a museology program. After that, who knows!
Are you a Messiah history alumnus who is doing something interesting? Drop me an e-mail: jfea(at)messiah(dot)edu. We would love to feature your story!