SHMM (aka Sam Houston Republic of Texas Presidential Library)

The Sam Houston Memorial Museum has always been a special place, and that is one reason why the LEAP Ambassadors enjoy volunteering there. Not only does it help educate citizens on the life and times of Texas’s greatest hero, but it also offers wonderful hands-on demonstrations, intriguing art exhibits, and beautiful grounds, highlighted by the ever-popular duck pond. But now it has even more to offer: today marked the official opening of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum as an the official Sam Houston Republic of Texas Presidential Library.

Our job was to greet and direct people, and it’s a role we greatly enjoyed. We saw County Commissioners, former Mayors, former Regents, the University President (and a former President), SHSU Deans and Vice Presidents, members of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, descendants of Sam Houston, and many other community and University leaders.

Members of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe with Houston’s Descendants (and a little Astros Pride!)

Volunteering is as educational as it is fulfilling.

Emcee of today’s event was the Museum’s former director, Mac Woodward.

Throughout the event, he highlighted important information, described the timeline for the evolution of the Museum as a Republic of Texas Presidential Library, and introduced key speakers, of which there were many!

First up was President White who, as Woodward noted, was probably the only person who has been the President of two Universities named for Tennessee Governors (Austin Peay in Tennessee and, of course, SHSU). President White’s comments were short, sweet, and eloquent, reminding us Sam Houston’s example to today’s leaders and today’s students.

James Haley, author of the definitive work on Sam Houston, also spoke and delivered lively and entertaining comments about the Texas leader.

Most important, he spoke to why Sam Houston is historically important and relevant to today’s world and, in fact, the future.

Haley was humorous and insightful, offering a glimpse into why his books are also intriguing and educational.

Curator of Education, Mikey Sproat, discussed the various manners in which the Library would highlight these collections, noting that a large emphasis would be on digital availability, providing world-wide access to the Library’s holdings.

Closing out the speaking portion of the event was Derrick Birdsall, newly appointed as the Museum’s Director.

Birdsall was brief, highlighting Houston’s status as a hero–not as a perfect man, but a hero nonetheless–and encouraging all guests and visitors to enjoy the Museum and its multi-faceted offerings.

Ten Years of Local Photography at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum

Although the SHMM’s 10th annual Photography Contest conflicted with our meeting time, we made some arrangements so we could once again see what the community had to offer, photographically speaking.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambasaddaors, Sam Houston Memorial Museum, Casey Roon, Amateur Photography Contest

The photo contest, created by Curator of Exhibits Casey Roon, gives non-professional photographers an opening to showcase their work. Each photo submitted was placed accordingly in five different categories—Abstract, Pets, Architecture, Face/Figures, and Nature. Winners were also given the opportunity to receive cash for their amazing work!

In front of an audience of about 75, Roon discussed the contest and announced the winners.  The Best in Show winner was Victoria Pieczynski in the ‘Nature’ category, while the Reserve winner was John Rogers in the ‘Architecture’ category.  A list of all winners is below:

Faces/Figures: (1) Sarah Wolsky, (2) Jerome Hunter, and (3) Kyra Aftosmes
Pets: (1) Lynette Dobbins, (2) Lynette Dobbins, and (3) Seth McAdow
Abstract: (1) Gary Readore, (2) Beth Gray, (3) Wanda Smith
Nature: (1) Victoria Pieczynski, (2) Sam Beard, (3) Gary Readore

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambasaddaors, Sam Houston Memorial Museum, Casey Roon, Amateur Photography Contest

Architecture: (1) John Rogers, (2) Kya Aftosmes, (3) Robert Mendoza
Best in Show: (1) VIctoria Pieczynski and (2) John Rogers
Curator’s Choice Winners: (1) Casey Mathis, (2) John Seitz, (3) Tonya Seitz, (4) Darelene Lee, (5) Sami Soukup, (6) Kyra Aftosmes, (7) Wanda Smith, (8) Veronica Lorine, (9) Lynette Dobbins, (10) Katherine Hubbard, (11) Jessie Smith, (12) Rhonda Jensen, (13) Barbara Lutzmann, (14) Sam Beard, (15) Judy Volper, (16) Morgen Clements, (17) Bianca Catungal, (18) Veronica Lovine, and (19) Sam Beard.

We enjoyed looking over the photos and comparing them to photos we take.  By reviewing the winning photos (and other, interesting photos that didn’t win), we were able to get some tips on how to improve our own work.

We spent some time with our favorite photos…

..and more importantly spent time talking to our friends, Mac and Leanne Woodward, Derek Birdsall, Megan Buro, and Casey Roon, before heading to our meeting.