Julie Baker, outreach coordinator, runs the MonDak Munchkins educational program at the MonDak Heritage Center. (Susan Minichiello | Sidney Herald)
Julie Baker, outreach coordinator, runs the MonDak Munchkins educational program at the MonDak Heritage Center. (Susan Minichiello | Sidney Herald)

The election results for the MonDak Heritage Center board was announced Sunday at the annual board meeting. Current board members Zach Yockim and Karen Redlim were reelected, while Deb Crossland was newly elected for a three-year term.

There were five nominees for three positions and 545 member votes. “It was a very competitive election this year,” Joe Bradley, MonDak Heritage Center president, wrote in an email newsletter.

The annual board meeting drew attention to some key goals the heritage center hopes to meet.

One goal is a reprinting of “Courage Enough,” a 1976 book of family histories in Richland County. “This is what most people refer to as ‘The Big Brown Book,’ and we’re now completely out,” executive director Benjamin Clark said during his speech.

“Courage Enough II” is also out of print. The cost of reprinting both books is $10,000, and Clark said they have 20 percent of the amount so far.

Clark told the Herald that the heritage center also aims to be more interactive and engaging with area residents. Part-time outreach coordinator Jenny Baker was hired last fall as part of that goal.

Baker runs MonDak Munchkins, an educational program from children ages 1 to 5. She also offers art classes for adults, including painting and pottery.

“It’s been a tremendous response, and we’d like to do more,” Clark told the Herald. In the nine months since art classes have been offered, 1,200 people have attended. “It’s just phenomenal since it’s so new.”

Baker is originally from a town outside of Great Falls and is adjusting well to Sidney. “The community just opens its arms and scoops you up,” Baker said.

Classes are described as a “fun fusion of history and art” by Baker, who encourages area residents to partipate.

Volunteers are instrumental at the MonDak Heritage Center. In his speech at the board meeting, Clark said various volunteers “logged over 3,200 hours in the last year, which is nearly equivalent to two full-time employees.” He also mentioned that according to IndependentSector.org, that amount of hours in Montana is valued at $47,678.

Tammy Linder has been a volunteer at the MonDak Heritage Center for 31 years. She said the center is a “great way for new families to be involved in the community,” particularly since there is an influx of new people moving to the area with the Bakken oil boom.

“I look at [new residents] as an open invitation to knowledge,” said Linder, who also teaches fourth grade at Central Elementary School.

Linder’s volunteer work ranges from helping with the photo archives to event planning. Events hosted at the center include family night, movie night, concerts and conferences. Members also have access to the museum.

“We need people to come and take advantage of the things we do,” Linder said.

“We could always use more volunteers,” Baker added.

The StarLab Family Nights are Thursday and Friday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The MonDak Heritage Center is hosting the 40th Annual Montana History Conference which will explore “Boom and Bust: Extracting the Past” on Sept. 19-21.

“This conference is not only for academics, but anyone who loves Montana’s history,” Clark said.

Published in the Sidney Herald on Weds., Sept. 11, 2013.

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