KHS and the Bluegrass Land Conservancy
One of my best parts of my job as community engagement coordinator here at the Kentucky Historical Society is meeting some of the great local, regional and statewide organizations that work to preserve Kentucky’s rich historical legacies. Whether it is a county historical society that has sponsored a historical marker or the Kentucky Museum and Heritage Alliance that represents groups across the state, I’m always inspired by the passion folks have for the history and culture of the Bluegrass state. But, to be honest, some organizations are tackling topics that are so near and dear to my heart, that I can’t help but take an extra-large dose of inspiration from them. As an environmental historian whose research focuses on the agricultural landscape in central Kentucky, the Bluegrass Land Conservancy is just such a group. The Conservancy’s mission of preserving the land through permanent conservation easements aims to protect the beautiful, working landscape that so many Kentuckians value. I recently had the pleasure of joining the Bluegrass Land Conservancy’s Education and Outreach committee to discuss its events this year and how KHS can partner to provide historical context to the programs. The group has a full calendar lined up, ranging from tours of famous horse farms to clean-ups of local creeks, and I couldn’t be more excited to be added to the schedule of speakers for some of these events. I’ll be discussing my research on the history of the Bluegrass agriculture and how early settlers influenced the landscape we see today. I think the hands-on experiences of touring farms and wading in creeks will help illustrate my findings on the 18th and 19th century roots of the modern Bluegrass landscape. There really can’t be a more compelling visual aid than physically pointing out the specific crops and livestock that played such important parts in creating the rural environment we often take for granted. My hope is that encouraging a deeper understanding of this complex history also lends a greater appreciation for the fragility of the landscape. This deeper understanding, in turn, will highlight the vital role that groups like the Bluegrass Land Conservancy play in protecting one of the state’s great resources. As KHS continues to collaborate with outside organizations across the state through projects like the Local History Trust Fund, Historical Marker Program and partnerships for specific events, the cross-pollination of ideas and energy invigorates everyone involved. This work ultimately benefits the entire Commonwealth by conserving our history for future generations.