Museum executive honored by publication as a top chief financial officer

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Kyle Wenger has been vice president-chief financial officer at Conner Prairie since 2009.

Staff Report
One of Conner Prairie’s top executives was honored Thursday when he was named an Indianapolis Business Journal 2016 CFO of the Year honoree.

Kyle Wenger of Fishers, Ind., has been chief financial officer of the museum since 2009. He oversees all financial aspects of Conner Prairie, including its $12 million annual operating budget and a public foundation that provides a $90 million endowment.

At Conner Prairie, Wenger has led efforts to operate with a balanced budget every year, negotiated new partnerships and renegotiated long-term contracts to increase annual revenue and lower expenditures. Continue reading

Facilities team member learns while he goes as he restores rides from past

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Rob Wilson has been on Conner Prairie’s facilities team for eight years. In his free time, usually in the winter months when the outdoor grounds are closed, he spends his time restoring some relics of the past he’s acquired, like this 1954 Chevy Belair 2-door.

By Hannah Kiefer
For more than 20 years, Rob Wilson has been working on classic cars in his down time. The grounds crew member in facilities here at Conner Prairie said he began collecting cars as they came to him. His restoration skills are completely self-taught.

“I’m learning as I go,” he said.

He’s restored six cars total so far and it all began with a 1970 Datsun SPL-311 Roadster 2-door convertible. Since, he’s worked on a 1965 Mustang Convertible, a 1982 Buick Regal Somerset Limited, a 1939 International D-2 pickup, a 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe 4-door Flathead and, the latest, a 1954 Chevy Belair 2-door. Continue reading

Youth volunteer program gets $10K boost from CarMax Foundation

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Conner Prairie’s youth volunteer program accepts up to 100 youth ages 10-18 each year and helps them build leadership and life skills, achieve personal growth and learn about Indiana history.

Staff Report
Conner Prairie’s youth volunteer program recently got a bump when the foundation of the nation’s largest used car dealership gave $10,000 to back its operation.

This is the fourth straight year that the CarMax Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of CarMax, has supported the program, which teaches youth ages 10-18 the importance of volunteerism, helps them build leadership and life skills, encourages their personal growth and development, and educates them about teaching Indiana history in a hands-on, interactive environment.

The program began 50 years ago with just one person. Today, it’s a widely popular – and exclusive – program for youth. Throughout the year, they learn public speaking skills, work ethic, poise, interpersonal skills and confidence through interaction with museum visitors. Continue reading

Back in time: The first Indiana Thanksgiving Day was in 1837

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Although Americans have set aside a day of thanks for the harvest and for the prosperity of the new nation since 1817, a coordinated observance took decades to establish. Photo and caption: Indiana Magazine of History

By Hannah Kiefer
Thanksgiving may not have been a national holiday until 1863, but some states were ahead of the curve and began celebrating the holiday much sooner – including Indiana.

In 1837, Indiana Gov. Noah Noble announced the state’s first Thanksgiving Day, which was Dec. 7 – coincidentally, Noble’s last day in office. He said the day was to be “a day of public thanksgiving to the almighty God for His special blessing on the fruits of the Earth and the measure of health throughout our state.”

The statement about health referred to the end of the 1832 cholera epidemic. Continue reading

Young professionals group Horizon Council hosts Holiday Cheers Dec. 15

161115_blog_1Holiday Cheers hosted by the Horizon Council is Dec. 15. Advance sale tickets are available online for this adults-only event offering a catered meal, craft beer and fine wines and a candlelit stroll through Conner Prairie’s Prairietown.

Staff Report
The young professional’s group that supports Conner Prairie hosts its annual holiday party in about a month and the group invites other area young professionals to come network, enjoy great food, sample craft beers and fine wines and party in Prairietown like they did back in 1836.

Holiday Cheers hosted by the Horizon Council is Dec. 15. Advance-sale tickets for this adult-only event are on sale now. Continue reading