Four score and seventy years ago, north of St. Louis, up the Missouri River, came a land naked of any major features. It was flat, no trees. The wind blew through the tall grass and sang a song. This land was Nebraska.
Back in 1867, the Cornhusker State was granted statehood. Nebraska celebrated its 150th birthday March 1. The planning for its birthday actually started in 2012 when a group of residents formed the Friends of Nebraska 150 Foundation. “I didn’t do anything personally, but my dad attended a celebration at the capitol, unveiled the new state stamp, read the state proclamation in the legislative chamber, and visited a Nebraska 150 art exhibition!” sophomore Eleanor Ricketts said.
Her father, Governor Pete Ricketts, appointed 17 creative helpers to make this all possible. On Aug. 1, 2015, Regan Anson from Lincoln was named the executive director of the Nebraska 150 Celebration. She planned to make this celebration the biggest in Nebraska’s history. Festivities began on Jan. 1 and are going all the way through to December.
The Nebraska 150 Celebration launched four online programs centered on volunteering, fitness, education and oral histories. One of these programs is the Nebraska 150 Challenge. Citizens are asked to run, bike or swim (or any other form of exercise) 150 miles over the course of 2017. Another puts emphasis on volunteering 150 hours in 2017. “I’m not big into fitness, but I have been logging service hours,” Ricketts said.
To remember this special event in our state’s history, First Lady Susanne Shore suggested a museum on wheels. On Feb. 7, Shore announced tour dates for Truckin’ through Nebraska: A Mobile Children’s Museum.
This semi-truck exhibit, produced by the Omaha Children’s Museum, contains interior and exterior displays and interactive games on a train-like trailer on the inside. Kids can test their knowledge of Nebraska, design their own farm, make postcards and examine toys from the 1800’s. On the outside, children can race through a Nebraska-themed obstacle course and build their own inventions. “My mom has worked so hard on it. It’s awesome to see all her hard work pay off,” Ricketts said.
This museum on wheels gives kids in small Nebraskan towns access to a taste of what a children’s museum is like. The Omaha Children’s Museum created the campaign to stretch learning combined with fun across the state.
The Mobile Children’s Museum is visiting 42 cities and towns across the state starting in April. Admission is free and everyone is welcome, young and old. The train visited Omaha April 7-9. For a complete list of tour dates check http://ne150.org.
Marian girls can get involved easily by visiting ne150.org. Play around on the website and learn a little more about Nebraska. New videos about Nebraska are released weekly. Citizens are able to participate in various events throughout the year and many details are provided online.
“I think it’s really cool to be a part of this. It’s a special opportunity to be a part of the 150th anniversary celebrations and raise awareness for Nebraska,” Ricketts said. After all, Nebraskans won’t be able to celebrate big again until 2067.