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Student Documents History of Local Non-Profit

Posted by Jenna Ray on Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013


Abbie Thebault-Spieker ’16, Bemidji, is working with the University of Minnesota, Morris’s Center for Small Towns (CST) to catalog historical documents for the Barnes-Aastad Soil and Water Conservation Research Association. The Barnes-Aastad Association is a stakeholder group for the USDA-Agricultural Research Service and the North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory in Morris. There has been no formal organization and archiving of the lab’s early records, so board members hired a student through CST to help catalog and present on the history.

Thebault-Spieker is responsible for scanning a large volume of photos and historical documents into a digital archive. She has been organizing items like the organization’s earliest meeting minutes so that specific information will be easier to access. Thebault-Spieker has also been charged with analyzing the information she is documenting. This spring she will give a presentation to the Barnes-Aastad Association about its history, which stretches back to its original conception and creation in 1959.

When asked what about the project she liked best, Thebault-Spieker replied, “I like the fact that you can find the history of a small town, and it’s not just an overview…it’s more in depth, and you really get to know the people.”

The Barnes-Aastad Soil and Water Conservation Research Association is a non-profit organization of farm managers and agribusiness supporting the research mission of the USDA-Agricultural Research Service and the North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory in Morris. Association membership consists of a cross-section of the agricultural community in west central Minnesota. It provides input to the research program, cooperates with on-farm experiments, and supports various outreach activities.

The University of Minnesota, Morris Center for Small Towns (CST) is a community outreach program that serves as a point-of-entry to the resources of the University of Minnesota. Small towns, local units of government, k-12 schools, nonprofit organizations, and other University units are able to utilize the Center’s resources as they work on rural issues or make contributions to rural society. Their mission is to focus the University’s attention and marshal its resources toward assisting Minnesota’s small towns with locally identified issues by creating applied learning opportunities for faculty and students.