GERING - Volunteers like Sandy Harrach are at the Legacy of the Plains Museum every Saturday afternoon. Harrach and about 150 volunteers help make the many events at Legacy run smoothly throughout the year. On Friday, Sept. 7, Director Amanda Gibbs and her staff thanked them for their many hours of selfless giving create a place of learning and history for the entire valley with cake, popcorn, coffee and conversation.
“Volunteers do a whole lot around here and we wanted to thank them for what is often a thankless job that many people never get to see,” Gibbs said. “We appreciate everything they do.”
Gibbs chose the date as volunteers were finishing up the annual fourth-grade visits where students take a trip through time to learn how equipment was used and how farming was conducted 100 years ago in the valley. With little time to rest, the volunteers shift their focus to preparing for the annual Harvest Festival, one of the museum’s biggest events.
“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them,” said Olivia Garl, curator. “This is our busiest time of the year and we wanted to make sure they know how much they are appreciated.”
Garl said it’s difficult to narrow down an exact number of hours, which easily run in the thousands, because how much time is donated depends on the volunteer.
“We have one board member who is here almost every day we’re open and the shop volunteers are here on Thursdays,” Garl said. “Others come and go. Some just volunteer for one event.”
The museum relies on volunteers, especially during big events. Garl said staff can plan events, but without the generosity of volunteers, they couldn’t pull them off.
Several volunteers, including Dick Kuxhausen, were in the Legacy fields on Monday afternoon making sure the equipment was working correctly for the upcoming demonstrations. He is among around a dozen volunteers in the shop, where old farm equipment is repaired and kept in working order. The hay was still damp Monday morning, making it difficult to work the Jayhawk stacker and Kuxhausen had to stop to adjust some parts.
“We’ve had to build a bunch of things for it because those parts don’t exist,” he said. “So, we took pictures of the broken part and built it from scratch.”
Kuxhausen estimates about 500-600 volunteer hours have been put into repairing and rebuilding the stacker to keep it running.
“We’ve got some really talented people that help with this stuff,” he said. “We’re trying to get a lot of these vintage things to the state they were in when the farms first got it in the field.”
The men who volunteer in the shop have a passion for the machines and enjoy speaking with the public about what they can do and how things have changed over the years. It’s also a lot of fun for them.
“They say the difference between men and boys is the size of their toys,” Kuxhausen said. “And we have some neat toys here.”
The museum is always looking for more volunteers. Garl said, regardless of your interests, they will find something for you to do. If you are interested in being a volunteer at the museum, call 308-436-1989.