Historic Preservation Trades Rodeo–Coming Your Way??


Sometimes you need to step out of your normal workday to get a new appreciation for the work you do. The craftspeople at the Historic Preservation Training Center (HPTC) were able to do that at the end of June when they conducted their first Preservation Trades Rodeo at their workshop in Frederick, Maryland.

Over the course of two days, representatives from all five HPTC teams, plus a pair of adobe craftsman from Pecos National Historical Park, shared the knowledge and skills that they use every day. They each presented four times over the course of two days, allowing people to pick and choose the sessions they wanted to see. The sessions were as follows:

Two women stand at a wheelbarrow.
Jessica Gordon demonstrates how to load a trowel with mortar as part of a repointing demonstration. Photo credit: NPS/S Polzin
  • Architecture Team–Historic Structure Documentation
  • Carpentry Team–Roofing; Log Hewing
  • Masonry Team–Mortar Analysis; Repointing; Stone Dutchmen Repairs
  • Project Management Team–Roles and Responsibilities in Contracted Historic Preservation Construction Project
  • Wood-Crafting Team–Chisel Sharpening; Wood Dutchmen Repairs;
  • Pecos NHP Team–Adobe Conservation and Repair

They presented to an audience of about 60 people, who responded to a locally circulated email advertisement. Participants were from both government (local, state and federal employees and SCA workers) and private sector (volunteers and employees of local historic sites and museums).

Why Should You Share Your Knowledge?

Besides the added benefit to the participants, providing training is a great way to learn more about a topic and become re-energized about something you might do every day.

Master Your Skill or Knowledge

You have to look at a task through the eyes of a newbie and really think about how it’s done and the best way to communicate that information. Not just through talking, but by engaging the learner in dialogue and activity. Here’s some things you’ll be talking about:

A man speaks to two other people in an office setting
Eric Hutchinson talks about how the HPTC Masonry Team does mortar analysis for historic preservation projects. Photo credit: NPS/S Polzin
  1. Why is what you do important? Why should the student care? Why do YOU care? If participants don’t care, they won’t invest themselves in the training or presentation and won’t be motivated to adopt what you’re sharing.
  2. What tools or resources do you need to do the task? Or if you’re sharing information or trying to change behavior (like safety or Operational Leadership) what resources are available for participants to keep learning after your training?
  3. How is the task done? What are the EXACT steps involved in the process? How do the tools and materials feel in your hands? When you’ve mastered a skill, you no longer have to think about how you do it – until you have to teach someone else how to do it. If you’ve ever taught someone to drive, you know how tricky this can be.
You Remember You’re Special

You realize that not everyone can do what you do. That might be mixing mortar or inputting data into FMSS. When you’re talking about what you do every day and people are listening and writing down notes or recording it on their phones, it makes you feel pretty special. And who doesn’t need that reminder every once in a while. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we’re being taken for granted. Sharing your knowledge will help get you out of that trap.

Two men secure a log to saw horses with log dogs.
Steve Jenkins and Rick Mowl demonstrate log hewing. Photo credit: NPS/S Polzin

During the Trades Rodeo, after his log hewing demonstration, Steve was asked by a young man, “I didn’t know people do this. How do I get a job like yours?” Steve was pretty blown away by that.

Pure Satisfaction

Sometimes you really see that spark when the message you’re communicating hits home and the learner “gets it” or catches the excitement. I remember that moment in 5th grade when I was struggling with the concept of fractions and something finally clicked in my head. That must’ve been pretty satisfying for Mr. Carey to witness as he helped me through it.

Sometimes that satisfaction might come from reading evaluations or comments made by participants. Some of the comments I received during the Trades Rodeo were “THANK YOU!“;  “Please do this again“;  “More people need to see this”; and this excerpt from a longer email that showed our impact on the big picture of the National Park Service:

From an archaeology standpoint learning about these various trades provides me with better clues about how and when buildings were constructed.  Spending time with preservation specialists and historic craft personnel is invaluable to someone in my line of work.  Further, a bunch of us were joking that learning these historic trades makes us very dangerous compliance reviewers.  It provides us with the knowledge to insure preservation philosophy is followed whenever our parks are working on stabilization or rehabilitation projects.

What’s Next?

HPTC is planning to host another Rodeo, but we’d like to take it out to you.

What You Might Offer:
  • Facilities that can host demonstrations and a large number of visitors and employees
  • Skilled tradesworkers who want to demonstrate and share their knowledge with others
  • A network of other historic sites (state/federal/local) and other cultural stewards who would benefit from craft demonstrations
  • Employees, Volunteers or SCA’s who can serve as support staff for set-up and demobilization
What we will offer:
  • At least six presenters to demonstrate unique trade skills
  • Coordination of registration, demonstrators
  • Advertisement support
  • Assistance in developing presentations
  • Logistical support and site management
How you may ask??

Complete this Google Form and let us know how we might work together to bring this Rodeo to your own corral.



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