Former banking executive brings customer service skills to guest services

Ron Wencel relocated to Noblesville, Ind., after he retired as vice president of BMO Harris Bank. He frequently visited Conner Prairie with wife Debbie, their daughter and her children before taking a guest services position at Conner Prairie.

By Hannah Kiefer
Before Ron Wencel took a job at the ticket desk at Conner Prairie, he had a career in banking. He was vice president of Canadian-based BMO Harris Bank, working with a team that oversaw quality control.

Ron started as a teller straight out of high school and began climbing the corporate ladder. During this time, he attended a three-year program to get a certificate in banking. Slowly but surely, he worked his way up to vice president. Fast-forward 45 years, three children and seven grandchildren, Ron and wife Debbie decided to put their house in Plainfield, Ill., on the market and contemplate Ron’s retirement.

Little did they know, though, their house would sell in just three weeks. “I hadn’t planned to retire that quickly,” he laughed. So in 2014, Ron retired from BMO Harris – and that’s when his journey to Conner Prairie began. Continue reading

Coming up: 2 authors to sign latest books at Conner Prairie

Staff Report
Two authors will be coming to Conner Prairie in the next few weeks to offer book signings for the general public.

1From 2-4 p.m. Nov. 26, author Margaret Henz will be signing copies of both “Christmas At My House” and “An Angel Named Jake (left).”

The first book is a nostalgic journey back in time when the author’s mother describes how Christmas was celebrated by her family in a small New England town. The second book is about a 75-pound yellow lab and her family’s experience with the adopted pet. Henz will sign copies of her books in the Conner Prairie Store inside the museum’s Welcome Center.

2From 2-5 p.m. on Dec. 10, author Roxy Morgan (left) will be signing her recently released book, “Zoe the Zebra.” The title is a children’s book about a zebra bored with her stripes and wants to be different, like the rest of the animals in the wild. Along the way, the zebra discovers that her stripes are what make her herself. Morgan’s book signing will also take place inside the Conner Prairie Store.

Both of these book-signing events are free and open to the public.

Beautisha: Actress Sarah Latimer portrays crowd favorite at Headless Horseman

beautisha

Beautisha, played by actress Sarah Latimer, is a crowd favorite at Conner Prairie’s Headless Horseman festival.

Staff Report
Beautisha has been played by actress Sarah Latimer at Headless Horseman since 2013.

Outside her character, she is an administrative assistant in the nuclear testing department at St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis. Originally from Indianapolis, Sarah is the daughter of two florists and has six brothers.

She graduated from Ben Davis High School and attended Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Sarah and husband Tim, a teacher with Hamilton Southeastern schools, have two grown children. Learn more about Sarah: Continue reading

Promise Road fourth-graders get historical lesson on electricity

coonce
Conner Prairie Interpreter Taylor Coonce sits with fourth-grade students at Promise Road Elementary in Noblesville as they demonstrate how to create an electrical circuit. 

Staff Report

Last week, 121 fourth-graders at Promise Road Elementary went “back in time” to get a lesson on electricity.

Manager of Science Interpretation Jason Adams, Interpreter Taylor Coonce, and Education Director Nancy Stark visited the school to try a new program developed by Conner Prairie staff and the teachers at Promise Road.

As a premise for the day’s activities, the fourth graders pretended to be members of a farm cooperative during the 1930s, and they had to decide whether or not to electrify their farms with help from the interpreters’ characters, Kurt Lancaster and Vera Zimmerman, who are mainstays in Conner Prairie’s Create.Connect exhibit. The characters were both considering bringing electricity to their own farms, and while Vera was all for it, Kurt wasn’t convinced. Therefore, they needed some help from the students to decide. Continue reading

New outdoor nature experience opening at Conner Prairie in July

0127_blog1
Construction continues on Treetop Outpost, a new, 10,000-square-foot outdoor nature experience that will open in July at Conner Prairie.

Staff Report

A four-story treehouse offering visitors panoramic views of the forest will be the centerpiece of a new 10,000-square-foot outdoor experience that will open July 1 at Conner Prairie.

Construction on Treetop Outpost began in late October and continues today in the southwest corner of the museum’s grounds, close to the White River. Several activity areas will surround the treehouse, allowing visitors of all ages to engage with natural materials, experience archaeology, build, create nature-based artwork, explore music with instruments and more.

Visitors will enter the treehouse by spanning a suspension bridge or walking up an elevated walkway. A portion of Conner Prairie’s existing nature walk will connect with Treetop Outpost. Continue reading