Updated: Oct 5
In an effort to bring to light a few of the preservation efforts being done at the grassroots level for Western Theater battlefield sites, we will bring to you an occasional Q&A with one of those organizations who has had success along the preservation front.
We asked April McDonough of the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation to provide some insight to the ongoing preservation efforts in and around Wilson's Creek battlefield, as well as let us a take a peek inside this organization's processes.
What preservation goal(s) is/are is the Foundation trying to accomplish?
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation’s Mission Statement-- To work in cooperation with and to support the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, a unit of the National Park Service, and its staff. To further, by all proper and legitimate agencies and means, the acquisition of Civil War historical properties and materials, especially those related to the Battle of Wilson’ Creek or usable in the interpretation of the Wilson’s Creek battle. To be a friend of the park whose primary purpose is to support Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in partnership and through activities that may include fundraising, volunteerism, education, advocacy, and research.
Where is your audience, meaning those you “advertise” to, as well as supporters, located?
We have a membership made up of people from across the country, although at least 50% of our members and supporters are located in this general area. Our intended audience is anyone who is interested in history, the Civil War, or preserving our national parks.
What does success look like for the organization?
We are successful when we can make people aware of the treasure that is Wilson’s Creek, when we can get support for the battlefield from a diverse group, and when we can support the battlefield through fundraising, advocacy, and preservation efforts.
What sort of events does the organization sponsor?
We sponsor Arts in the Park music performances at the battlefield, an employee lunch, a summer day camp for children, and other fundraising and awareness events. This fall we are hosting a Civil War seminar, which will probably be a mainly virtual event now. It’s scheduled for October 9-10. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How does historic preservation translate to prosperity in Springfield and the surrounding area?
It has been documented that people who visit Civil War battlefields typically stay several days in the area and spend money at local hotels, restaurants, and shops. This helps merchants and also translates to tax dollars for the local economy. Wilson’s Creek NB also provides a green space for recreation and a source of entertainment and education for local citizens. This adds to the quality of life for people who live in southwest Missouri.
I have always been a believer in sharing best practices among organizations - what are some ideas that your group have used in the past to increase support for the organization?
We host and support a variety of events at the battlefield and in the area. The goal of many of our events is to increase awareness and support for Wilson’s Creek NB, as well as to provide funds for projects and activities at the battlefield. The goal of our summer camp program is to encourage a new generation of stewards for Wilson’s Creek and other national parks. This has been a very successful and popular camp. We also provide information about the benefits of joining the Foundation at events that we host and support.
Any other thoughts about the Wilson’s Creek Battlefield Foundation that you would like to share?
Our organization has been in existence since 1950, when it was started by local community leaders to preserve the land where the Battle of Wilson’s Creek took place. I believe one of the keys to our longevity and success is a good working relationship with the National Park Service and the staff at Wilson’ Creek NB. For more information about our organization you can visit our website, www.wilsonscreek.com or look for us on Facebook.