The Wessels Living History Farm web site has been recognized as “one of the best online resources for education in the humanities” by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). In December, 2005, a panel of educational peer reviewers voted to include the Wessels site on EDSITEment, a gateway to the highest quality humanities-related educational content on the Internet.
This Wessels Living History Farm web site is dedicated to making the history of agricultural innovations come alive for students across the country and around the world. The site features over 350 stories, dozens of animations and almost 500 oral history interviews delivered in streaming video. It is supported by a generous bequest of David Wessels, a York, Nebraska, area farmer, and by grants from other organizations.
EDSITEment (http://edsitement.neh.gov) is a central resource bank for parents, teachers and students across the country and is supported by a partnership with NEH, the National Trust for the Humanities and the Marco Polo Educational Foundation. In October, 2005, visitors to EDSITEment logged almost 400,000 user sessions.
“We are thrilled to be recognized and included by EDSITEment,” says Woody Ziegler an educator and member of the Wessels Board of Directors. “It can take up to a year to be included on the site. The NEH brings in distinguished educators who review a nominated site for intellectual quality, content, design and, most importantly, classroom impact.” Each year, several hundred sites are nominated, but only 20 to 30 sites are accepted from that list.
In addition to the stories and interviews, the Wessels Living History Farm web site includes a Learner Resource area with full lesson plans written by top teachers in social studies, reading, math, science, art and even music. Each lesson plan is closely tied to educational standards.
Last year, the Wessels Living History Farm site recorded almost 800,000 visits from users all over the world. Since the site premiered in 2003, the oral history interview video segments have been played over 200,000 times. Teachers have downloaded over 17,000 lesson handout pages to duplicate and distribute to their classes. Between 10 and 15 percent of the users each month come from outside the U.S.
“We know we’re reaching the audience that David Wessels was concerned about,” says Larry Kopsa, chair of the board. “Students and teachers are discovering the web site and learning about the innovations in agriculture that happened during the 20th Century. Now, the acceptance from EDSITEment will spread the word even further.”