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Stories from Justin Morrill's Homestead

Strafford, Vermont, Summer 2020

World Story Exchange's summer programming was severely limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we did partner with the Justin Morrill Homestead in Strafford, VT, to offer an in-person camp for 8 students.

The students spent one week learning about - and making multi-media stories about - the legacy of Justin Morrill, from his time as a US Congressman to his interests in architecture and experimental horticulture.

The Justin Morrill Homestead is a living museum, carefully preserved, showcasing the household and homesteading technologies from over a century ago. The systems on display show how the household provided water, food production, lighting, cooling and social entertainment.

During the camp, we toured Justin Morrill’s house, carriage barn, orchards, gardens, and ice house. We also visited Strafford’s Post Office, Historical Society, Town House, Cemetery and Library.

Concurrent to the campers immersion in history was a thoroughly modern overview of documentary story production. Campers learned the basics of photography and video techniques, audio recording, lighting, how to conduct interviews, how to develop a story using shot lists and storyboards, and how to edit using non-linear video editing software.

Each camper followed their own ideas for a story focussing on one aspect of Justin Morrill's life. The campers used cameras, computers and microphones provided by World Story Exchange while making their own photos and videos, conducting their own interviews, and editing their own stories.

To view the short documentary films produced by the campers, click here to visit the project website. To learn more about the legacy of Justin Morrill, click here to visit the website hosted by The Friends of Justin Morrill.

Tracey McFadden (Director, The Friends of Morrill Homestead) leading students on a tour of Morrill's gravesite. Throughout the week we explored the history of Morrill's hometown of Strafford guided by historians and experts from the Strafford Historical Society and the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation.

Scott teaching the fundamentals of photography at JMH. We followed the Governor's mandates for COVID-19 precautions by doing health screenings and temp checks for each student before each day, wearing masks, and setting up the classroom for maximum social distance and ventilation.


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