WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — With the arrival of summer, school-age kids around the country are celebrating another school year’s end. But for the student leaders that make up the American Battlefield Trust’s 2020-2021 Youth Leadership Team, this time is also being spent polishing off capstone projects that highlight battlefield preservation, education, or visitation. While the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges, these students stayed the course and let their passion drive them toward success. Using lessons learned from the nation’s premiere battlefield preservation organization, Isaac Leichty crafted a brochure that unleashes new insight on tourism, educational initiatives, and preservation at central Indiana’s Tippecanoe Battlefield.
“I actually visited the battlefield for inspiration, and something about being outside and on-location helped me to think of new and COVID-friendly ways to create a capstone project,” said Leichty, who resourcefully looked to the staff at the Tippecanoe County Historical Association — who run the battlefield park and museum — for their guidance and expertise. It was through this connection that he was included in the Association’s educational programs and a military staff ride, where he received detailed analysis of the battlefield and the 1811 conflict that unfolded upon it.
Through the Youth Leadership Team program, the Trust challenges young minds to seek out adventure, creativity, an expanded network, and a greater understanding of both the American past and the present-day efforts to preserve it. The capstone project component presents an ideal opportunity for participants to check off each of these boxes while gaining new skills and engaging with their communities. Through the generosity of the Pipkin Charitable Foundation, team members receive a stipend to serve as project seed money.
Leichty will eventually find his final product housed in the battlefield museum — much to the excitement of Tippecanoe County Historical Association employees. The student has developed an appreciation for the complex history behind the site, but also an enriched understanding for the widespread mission that the American Battlefield Trust operates behind. “It is more than just buying the land,” deemed Leichty, pointing to access and education as additional tenets of battlefield preservation. “Words really cannot describe the feeling one gets when one stands in the same place where charges were repelled, cannons echoed and mayhem ensued.”
The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 53,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.