Back to the Future with Lewis and Clark, Technology Then and Now
Now entering its tenth successful year, and nationally recognized, “Back to the Future 2015” is the second week of January while the City College is on winter break. Ten “Then and Now” exhibits and hands-on learning stations including weather/climate, communications, medical, mapping/surveying, mechanical/blacksmithing, flora/fauna, food, discipline/organizations will be instructed by professionals from the community. Each module is designed specifically for a Middle-School audience (7th Grade) to give them hands on demonstrations of the technologies that members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition used to meet the challenges of their endeavor, as well as, current technologies we use today to accomplish the same tasks.
The students rotate through the various exhibits/demonstrations at approximately 20 minute intervals over the course of the day. This includes a break for lunch with a “Taste of the Trail” prepared by Yellowstone County Extension Officers. One hundred fifty students can be accommodated each day and because the program has become extremely popular, attendance fills up quickly.
Initially in 2005 “Back to the Future” was use as a public relations tool to generate community-wide momentum and support for the then up-coming National Signature Event, “Clark on the Yellowstone”, scheduled for July 22-25, 2006 as part of the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. Each of the 15 sanctioned Signature Events were asked to “leave a legacy” so that future generations could benefit from the exploration and commemoration of Lewis and Clark. It is our understanding that “Clark on the Yellowstone” was the only National Signature Event to include a legacy component in their overall Signature Plan.
After 10 years it continues to meet the goals that were created in its inception. They are:
- To provide an educational opportunity for area students to experience the various technologies used by the Lewis and Clark Expedition and see what would be used today to accomplish the same tasks.
- To develop a legacy event for continued learning about the Expedition.
- To foster stewardship of Pompey’s Pillar and preservation of other local elements related to the Expedition.
- To develop an awareness of the economic impact that an event that took place 200 years ago will continue to have on our community into the future.
- To further expose students to the opportunities that a “vocational” education/curriculum could offer by hosting a day-long event at MSU-B COT(now City Colllege) showcasing the many opportunities available to young people.
To date, more than 8200 seventh-grade students have participated in this one-of-a-kind programming. Thousands of thank you letters have been received extolling the unique, historical and fun learning experience. Many of the first students who attended “Back to the Future” have graduated from high school and college. It is anticipated that many of them will become stewards of our land and keepers of our history by exploring opportunities in resource
management, geography and history. In addition, many others may choose to attend City College for further education because of their early, in depth exposure to the facility and all it has to offer.
John Pulasky, Our Montana Volunteer Education Director, holds the National Trail Stewardship Award from the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation in front of a watercolor painting of the Clark on the Yellowstone Signature Event. The award recognizes John and a dedicated group of volunteers who have produced the one of a kind legacy event, Back to the Future, for the past nine years.