These three questions are rather simple, aren’t they? Most of us, when recognized and complimented for a job well done, will simply say, “I thought that was what was expected.” We do not give much thought to how important the project, program, exhibit, or contribution to our organization’s excellence was. And this is where you are wrong!
Each year hundreds of organizations and individuals accomplish amazing things in their pursuit and preservation of state and local history. Those organizations and individuals are recognized annually by AASLH through its Leadership in History Awards Program. Often those incredible accomplishments are done on a small budget by organizations run by volunteers.
Each year the Awards Committee meets in Nashville to review well over one hundred nominations ranging from educational programs to publications to websites to exhibits to projects and organizational excellence and individual achievements.
As a former member and chair of the Leadership in History Awards Committee, I often asked myself, “How many worthy projects did we miss?” How many worthwhile endeavors went unrecognized? How many more awards could have been given? How many more nominees could have personally received their awards at the annual awards banquet?
Are you one of the unrecognized? The goal of the Awards Committee this year is to have at least one award from each of the fifty states. Is that too much to ask of ourselves? I don’t think it is. Surely organizations and individuals are accomplishing excellence in each of the states.
The benefits of receiving an award from AASLH are almost too numerous to mention. The thrill of receiving the award at the awards banquet is certainly exhilarating.
To be among the elite in the field of state and local history, and to share your accomplishments with other award winners makes for a memorable evening. But the benefits continue after you return home with your award in hand.
Think of what your Board and you can do with the award. You have a proven track record of success. Can’t you, your Board, and staff convert that into increased support, funding, and more projects? What about the publicity generated in your community? That could mean increased attendance, increased revenue, and increased sales in your gift shop.
What is the downside to receiving an award? None. An award? Why me? Why not?
Donald P. Zuris
Curator Emeritus, Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, Corpus Christi, Texas
Past Chair, AASLH Leadership in History Awards Committee