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Thank You Volunteers! - Feat. Val Oswald

As we reflect during this season of thankfulness, we at the Plainsman Museum would like to take the time to give thanks for our many volunteers who help make our mission possible! To help give a further glimpse into the work of our volunteers, we have asked several of our regular volunteers to answer some questions about what they do here at the museum, and will be featuring them in a series of blog posts for the next few weeks. Today's featured volunteer is Val Oswald!


Val Oswald

Q: When did you first visit the Plainsman Museum?

"I don't remember for sure, but possibly when our boys were growing up in the 1980's."

Q: When did you start volunteering here?

"Possibly in the spring of 2015. Our friend and neighbor - who was a volunteer here - asked if I would come and look at the flower beds by the Bates House. I did come and look, and that triggered the beginning of my time as a volunteer. I worked on those flower beds and then just kept coming back."

Q: What work do you usually do as a volunteer at the museum? What your favorite thing to do as a volunteer?

"My work mostly involves working with the landscape - mowing grass, planting and caring for flowers, and pruning bushes and trees. My favorite thing I think is the satisfaction in keeping the grounds looking well-groomed. I can't say I'm always one hundred percent successful, but it's something to strive for!"

Q: What skills have you applied while volunteering at the museum? Were there any previous job or life experiences that you were able to draw from to do your work here?

"I can't say I have many skills, but I do seem to have a natural bent for garden and lawn care. After farming for thirty years, I got into the landscape grading business for fourteen years. The landscape business involved planting grass and laying sod, which helped me learn a few things about how to care for lawns as well. That experience has been a help to me in working with the landscape here."

Q: Tell us about one of your favorite artifacts or exhibits here at the museum!

"I have to confess that I never dreamed I would be spending time volunteering at the museum, because I didn't think I had any interest in this old stuff. However, a couple years ago I was doing some cleaning and moved some of the side saddles around. I had walked by them many times. As I was moving them, I noticed one saddle had a note hanging on it. I read the note and discovered that saddle has been used by my great-great-grandmother back in Morton, Illinois! One of her sons - my great-grandfather - moved to Aurora, and bought the farm where I grew up."

Q: What's been one of your fondest memories of your time here at the museum?

"I can't think of any one thing being my fondest memory, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a small part of the team that makes this place tick. I'm amazed at the talent of the other volunteers here; all in different areas. God has given us all a gift that we can use. It doesn't matter how large or small it is. The important thing is that we use it!

"I am so blessed to be a part of this team! Tina Larson and her daughter Kathryn are the paid members of the staff. They are to be complimented for both their leadership and their patience as they deal with all that running around a non-profit organization involves.

"Thank you Tina and Kathryn for providing a place for my 'adult day care!' My wife loves you. She says having a husband around the house is like having a piano in your kitchen...always in the way."


Thank you Val for all you do!



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