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President’s Message

Ruth Haus, President

On behalf of Living History Farms, I would like to express our deepest gratitude for the outpouring of community support we experienced in 2021.

As the pandemic continued to challenge us all in new ways, we continued to adapt our programming to serve the community in new ways. Participation bounced back nearly to pre-COVID levels in many of our programs, including Day Camps, Barnyard Readers, and many special events. However, challenges persisted for schools, leading many to drop field trip experiences from their offerings. That void is slowly being refilled.

This year we welcomed guests from 47 states. I would like to highlight three significant partnerships that promoted Living History Farms as a cultural destination to our many stakeholders in 2021:

  • We celebrated our 25th year as a partner of the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area and renewed our commitment. As a partner site, Living History Farms helps celebrate Iowa’s contribution to world agriculture.
  •  Our partnership with Harvest Hosts exploded as RVers from across America visited Living History Farms in record numbers.
  • In 2021, we continued our lifelong journey toward cultural competence, enhanced through Bravo Greater Des Moines’ opportunity to collaborate with other nonprofit organizations in the Des Moines metro’s arts and culture sector in order to build capacity in the areas of inclusion, diversity, and accessibility. This is a key area of focus that remains at the forefront of our new five-year strategic plan.

We are grateful for their continued partnership.

Living History Farms also received a historic amount of government support in 2021. We secured a second fully forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loan and competitive funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act/American Rescue Plan, and we are in the process of applying for the employee retention tax credit.

Private support continues to be the foundation that sustains us and helps us serve the community. Hundreds of individuals and families, together, helped us surpass our annual support goal, assuring that we could continue to adapt, to innovate, and to become a more inclusive and representative museum.

As we look ahead to 2022, we are excited to bring stories of under-represented communities to the forefront of our programming initiatives, thanks in large part to a generous competitive grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Our small professional staff is in the process of rebuilding. In the fourth quarter of 2021, we hired a curator, an event planner, and a program registrar. Postings for additional positions can be found at LHF.org/Employment. We are returning to pre-COVID staffing levels more quickly than anticipated thanks to generous community support and the federal grants we have been awarded.

Last, but not least, I want to say how grateful we all are for the time and talents of our volunteers, young and old. These 500+ volunteers supported us in countless ways in programming, maintenance, and general operations. We are humbled and grateful for their dedication to our mission. I also want to personally thank Dave Austin, our Board Chairman (2020-2021), who is retiring this year. His leadership and that of the entire board supported the organization through these past two years, the most difficult in our history.

Living History Farms has just adopted a five-year strategic plan for 2022-2026. It is not only a recovery plan from the historic COVID pandemic of 2020- 2021, but one that will ensure that the museum will thrive as a vibrant and relevant place in the community. This strategic plan will leverage our 51-year history as a trusted cultural institution in our community for high quality historical programming and respectful dialogue.

Sincerely,

Ruth Haus,
President

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