‘Site’ Seeing: Staff Development 2023

The staff has been seeing the sites lately! State historic sites that is. Over the summer of 2023, we have had the lucky ability to work on professional development for the entire Bentonville staff: full-time, temporary, and volunteers! We have conducted two staff trips and hosted a professional development workshop this summer alone. In this blog post, we’ll discuss a few highlights from these exciting opportunities!

‘On the road again:’ The staff in the Bentonville van on their way home from Historic Edenton in July. Clockwise from bottom left: Anna Kulcsar, Fred Claridge, Megan Peedin, Aaron Williford, Noah Trogdon, Rachel McLaughlin, Cassidy Joyner, Colby Lipscomb

Visiting Durham Sites – Stagville, Duke Homestead, Bennett Place

June 8th, 2023 a delegation of staff and volunteers led an extensive trip to many of our nearby sister sites, all in and around Durham, NC. Starting with Historic Stagville, grabbing a quick lunch, then Duke Homestead and finishing at Bennett Place. The team participated in guided tours at all three of these State Historic Sites.

Through visiting these sites, our staff and volunteers observed the different methods used by other historic interpreters on their tours to engage their audiences.  It was also intriguing to observe how each site deals with difficult subjects in ways that visitors can understand. These three sites are ones we ultimately recommend as they truly give a look into the interconnectedness of history. 

The group listens to Interpreter Ryan Reed at Bennett Place State Historic Site

Visitor Services and Guided Tour Workshop

Education and Interpretation Supervisor for the Division of State Historic Sites, Andrew Duppstadt conducted a Visitor Services and Guided Tour workshop for state employees across the division at Bentonville on June 28th. Several more of our volunteers and staff were able to attend and learn about professionalism and the basics of developing and facilitating guided tours. The workshop also included an example tour of the Harper House led by current Programs Coordinator Colby Lipscomb.

Heading East – Edenton and Somerset Place

Most recently, on July 13th, another group of staff and volunteers, led by Programs Coordinator Colby Lipscomb journeyed east to see two other state historic sites, Historic Edenton and Somerset Place. Starting at Somerset Place, we received an excellent tour from Interpreter Lilly Cartwright and, even though we were behind schedule, Programs Coordinator Amanda Irvin showed us around the many buildings that make up Historic Edenton State Historic Site.

The group inside the historic 1767 Chowan County Courthouse, the oldest government building in NC

These two sites allowed our staff and volunteers opportunities to observe the interpretation of large areas of land in simple ways. In our travels, one element that struck out to everyone was how each tell stories of people from all walks of life during the 18th and 19th centuries. Each of these two sites are ultimately must-see sites here in North Carolina as they truly paint a whole picture of North Carolina history.

Why Visit Other Sites?

Professional development is an integral part of what we do at Bentonville, and across the Division of Historic Sites and Properties, for all staff members and volunteers alike. We strive to make the opportunity to work at Bentonville fulfilling, both professionally and personally. These trips and workshops provide not only vital training and development, but also excellent team-building, all of which together improve our ability to tell the Bentonville story and engage with visitors like you!

Thank you for reading along and joining us virtually on these trips. Check out the bottom of the post for a gallery of other photos from our travels! If you are interested in volunteering or applying for temporary employment (all positions currently filled), reach out to Programs Coordinator Colby Lipscomb at colby.lipscomb@ncdcr.gov.

Finally, thank you to the staff at each of the sites and the rest of the Division for helping support these professional development trips! We hope to arrange more for the future! Stay tuned!

A special thank you goes out to Vera Ceceleski at Stagville, Katie Vanhoy and staff at Duke Homestead, Ryan Reed and staff at Bennett Place, Lilly Cartwright at Somerset Place, and Charlene Whitehurst and Amanda Irvin at Historic Edenton for helping us out and showing us around.

Article by Colby Lipscomb and Megan Peedin.

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