Volunteer Voices: Jerry Kerr

Volunteer Jerry KerrI was born on October 25, 1949. I am entering my seventh season as a volunteer at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, and anxiously awaiting the end of the COVID-19 social distancing measures. I began volunteering at the ranch because of my abiding interest in the preservation and promotion of New Mexico’s distinctive history.

My education in college and graduate school was in American Studies, with an emphasis on history and museums. I first moved to NM in 1973 and wrangled a job at the University of New Mexico’s Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, in the Education Department, coordinating a program of suitcase exhibits with the Albuquerque Public School System. But, after the grant for that program was not renewed, my life took other turns toward restaurant management and legal administration.

In 1984 I left New Mexico for employment elsewhere, not to return permanently until 2011, after retiring from a career in corporate administrative services in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. region.

Upon my return, I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer at El Rancho de las Golondrinas because it marked coming full circle back to my true first love. I enjoy everything about the ranch, and spend my time variously as an on-site docent, tour guide or demonstrator at El Molino Grande, the big mill. On festival weekends I am mostly to be found at El Molino Grande, while any other day I might be giving a tour and/or residing at one of our buildings on the ranch.

Being a volunteer at El Rancho de las Golondrinas has allowed me to continue to contribute to the community in ways that I feel are meaningful. It is a personally fulfilling avocation, and I am always gratified to see folks walking away from the ranch with a greater understanding of our history and culture. I like to think that this helps to reinforce the fabric of our society, while giving me a reason to dress in period clothing and be more than I usually am.

Volunteer Vista: Martha and Jim Meehan in their own words

Marsha Meehan

We, Marsha and Jim Meehan, have been volunteering at Las Golondrinas since 2018.

Retired IT professionals from Wethersfield Connecticut, we first became interested in history through our involvement with the local Historical Society where Marsha was a member of the Collections and Exhibits Committees, and an event volunteer. Jim served on the Governing Board, edited and wrote for the society’s “Articles from the Community” website and helped out at events also. In addition Marsha was active in local knitting and Book Groups and Jim was a longtime member of the Men’s Garden Club of Wethersfield.

We first came to Santa Fe in 1992 for our 25th wedding anniversary and returned at least once a year ever since then. In May of 2017 we were able to retire to the City Different. We had visited Las Golondrinas on several of those trips and El Rancho was at the top of the list for places to volunteer when – after house hunting and settling in – we were finally able to in 2018.

Jim MeehanWith little knowledge of New Mexico history we appreciated the good training and welcoming atmosphere that allowed us to quickly feel comfortable as docents. We also really like the opportunity to try various things at the ranch. In 2018 and 2019 Marsha could normally be found in the Weaving, Spinning and Colcha area, while Jim would usually be working at either the Big Mill or Sierra Village. We especially enjoy being anonymous ghosts at Spirits of New Mexico, helping Julie Anna in the gardens, and (slightly less) spring cleaning the dirt floor buildings.

But mostly it is the people — staff and fellow volunteers — an interesting, intelligent and friendly group who make it so much fun to be a part of such a worthwhile organization.

When not in costume Marsha enjoys knitting increasingly complex projects, and reading. Jim likes to spend his time researching and writing about NM history and culture — and sharing that info via bimonthly “email blasts” with a group of longtime CT friends.

Las Golondrinas Heroes Make Masks, Clean Up Los Pinos

Liz Trujillo
Liz Trujillo

To say that our volunteers are itching to get out of quarantine and back to the museum is an understatement. The Las Golondrinas staff has been coming up with some creative ways that they can do some good and keep busy.

Liz Trujillo masks

Longtime volunteer Liz Trujillo has been firing up her sewing machine and making masks for essential workers. To date, she has made about two dozen, and we are looking into donating them where they can be best used. “I was so pleased to participate in this project. I hope the wearers of these masks enjoy good health and are protected from COVID19,” Trujillo says. She even made a mask with Colcha embroidery (see photo). Thanks, Liz, for your creativity, skill and generosity!

Los Pines Road cleanup
Los Pinos photo credit: Olivia Harlow, Santa Fe New Mexican

Meanwhile, on June 23, a group of stalwart Las Golondrinas staff and volunteers partnered with staff from our neighbor, Sunrise Springs, to pitch in and clean up Los Pinos Road. Due to furloughs and more people eating in their cars, there was a significant amount of trash and debris to pick up — almost 40 volunteers and staff participated and helped clean up the neighborhood. Thanks to Santa Fe County for supplying vests for volunteers and trash bags, and for picking them all up!

If you would like more information on making masks or being included with community outreach projects, email, Laura Gonzales, Volunteer and Education Manager.

Las Golondrinas Heroes: Louann Jordan and Pat Kuhlhoff

Every once in a while, someone comes along that makes a big impression. Here at Las Golondrinas, we have been blessed with so many wonderful volunteers, staff members and members that we have decided to feature them from time to time via our Las Golondrinas Heroes column. Two of our biggest heroes who have left us over the past year are Louann Jordan and Pat Kuhlhoff, two strong, amazing women who shared passions for history, New Mexico and the Las Golondrinas mission.

Louann Jordan
Louann Jordan

Louann Jordan had a 45-year relationship with Las Golondrinas. Over that time she served as a staff member, a volunteer, and a close confidant to the LG family. It is thanks to her that we have our name, El Rancho de las Golondrinas – the museum was originally called The Old Cienega Village Museum — she suggested the name somehow include the swallows that fly through the property, and thus the name was changed.

Over the years Louann curated exhibits, designed the font that makes up our current logo, illustrated maps of the property and worked at countless festivals and special events for the museum. She was an incredible artist and had a passion for this museum and the land on which it sits. Louann passed away earlier this year, but has left an amazing legacy to Las Golondrinas.

Pat Kuhlhoff was also an aficionado of New Mexico history, volunteering at the New Mexico History Museum, leading historic walking tours of downtown Santa Fe, volunteering for trails organizations and volunteering at Las Golondrinas.

Pat and her husband Gene moved here in 1989 after falling in love with the high desert and the vast history surrounding Santa Fe. Gene passed away in 1991, and Pat threw herself into volunteering for a number of Santa Fe organizatons, including the Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe Symphony and, of course, Las Golondrinas. Dan Goodman once said of Pat, “She has a knack for understanding and explaining history and engaging visitors, getting their imagination going.”

Pat Kuhlhoff
Pat Kuhlhoff

Pat passed away in 2019 and her presence at Las Golondrinas is sorely missed.

Both Pat and Louann had such passion for this special place, which makes them true Las Golondrinas heroes. Both women wanted to ensure that their legacy included Las Golondrinas, giving posthumous gifts to the museum through their wills.

We are so grateful to both Louann and Pat for that generosity — of time, of talent, of energy. It is thanks to heroes like them that we are able to continue the important work and mission of Las Golondrinas.

If you would like more information on legacy gifts or including Las Golondrinas in your will or estate, Email Jackie Camborde, Director of Development.


by Laura Gonzales, Education and Volunteer Manager

Volunteer Keith AustinIf you have enjoyed the homemade muffins, turnovers and other baked treats that appear on the kitchen table in the Volunteer Casita when Keith Austin is at the Ranch, you may thank a decision he made many years ago.

Born in Mount Ayr, Iowa, he was soon transported to rural northern California, where his parents settled on a farm in the small community of Potter Valley. Keith still has vivid memories of long hours picking and sorting pears in the local orchards to earn money for the upcoming school year. Upon graduating from high school, he was faced with that universal question: What shall I do with the rest of my life? The answer lay in a trade school in Seattle, WA, where he acquired the skills that eventually led to a career in many of the best bakeries in the San Francisco Bay Area and, yes, to those delights that grace our own Casita kitchen.

Keith met his partner of forty years, Donald Coleman, in that Bay Area setting. The two moved to Sonora, in the foothills of the Sierras, where frequent visits to Keith’s mother and stepfather there had convinced them that this was the perfect retirement locale. This was a “fatal” step, since both of the elders were volunteers at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in nearby Jamestown; it wasn’t long before Keith and Donald were donning the requisite black cap, string bow tie, and vest of the well-known conductor’s uniform, and holding forth on the history of the Sierra Railroad and the surrounding Gold Rush country to guests on the railroad’s steam operation.

After nine years in Sonora, and many vacations in New Mexico, the pair made another fateful decision: departing the Sierra foothills for the high desert of Santa Fe, arriving on June 6, 2006 (D-Day!). So much to see, so much new territory to explore. That included a visit to El Rancho de las Golondrinas, touted as one of the premier attractions in the area. While there, they dropped by the Gift Shop; learning of their background, the shop’s manager, Barbara Furr, grabbed both by the collar and announced, “You’re going to be volunteers here!” And so it was. That was fourteen years ago. Both have become fixtures around the Ranch, usually volunteering twice a week, ensconced in the historic buildings at the upper section of the property. Several years back, Donald gave Keith the birthday gift of a tin-making lesson, offered on-site by Jason Younis y Delgado, often seen at Las Golondrinas during fiestas.

Keith took to the new skill set, and now can be seen demonstrating his tinworking artistry at the entrance to the Chapel. Both Keith and Donald received the coveted Volunteer of the Year award for 2014. Keith sums up his experience at Las Golondrinas with this sentiment: “I really love working here. All my fellow volunteers and the staff, it’s like a big family.”

Spanish Colonial Days

Adventures in Territorial New Mexico
They are here again. The most fun school children have had since spring break. Spanish Colonial Days are jam-packed with fun things for children of all ages to learn and explore. Tin stamping, wool washing, milling, blacksmithing, corn-grinding, and so much more. This year SCD will be held in early April.

The dates are as follows:

  • April 9th
  • April 11th
  • April 16th
  • April 18th

Adventures in Territorial New Mexico

If you know of any school that would like to come out to our Spring Spanish Colonial Days please tell them to call Amy at (505) 471-2261.

Some topics you can discuss before and after your visit are manos and matates, acequias and agriculture, Parajes along El Camino Real, and how different life was before all the modern accommodations we now take for granted.

If you are one of our wonderful Volunteers we thank you in advance for your continued service to the Museum on these action-filled days. We specialize in Hands-On-History and future generations gain knowledge of the past through your enthusiastic efforts. Again thank you all for making these days exciting and educational all at the same time.


Volunteering is Fun!

Volunteers pick grapes for the Harvest Festival stomping grounds.

Did you know there are many ways to volunteer? Throughout the years we have had a multitude of different people from different walks of life donate their time in a number of ways. One volunteer put in 2,000 hours in a two year period rebuilding the Barela Mill. Another dedicated volunteer came out twice a week all summer long to tend to the herb garden in the Sierra Village. We have had individuals who enjoy helping the maintenance crew set up for events and others who enjoy staffing the front desk on event weekends. Whatever you enjoy doing we are sure we can find you a position amongst the ranks.
Consider joining our volunteer corps today.

Las Golondrinas Honors Its Volunteers

Pedro Martinez is Volunteer of the Year

Contact: Laura Gonzales-Meredith at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, (505) 271-4461, extension 212

The Santa Fe Hilton Hotel was the site Saturday for the 33rd annual volunteer awards luncheon and ceremony for El Rancho de las Golondrinas, New Mexico’s renowned living history museum.

Over 200 attended, where museum volunteers celebrated the year past, looked forward to the coming season, and museum leadership recognized its volunteers with service awards of pins, turquoise stones, and solid silver medallions.

Volunteer Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez of Santa Fe was named 2018 Volunteer of the Year, the museum’s annual most prestigious award.

Martinez, a living history enthusiast and native New Mexican, coordinates and assists other volunteers on non-festival weekends. He also was interviewed last year on Public Broadcasting System’s Santa Fe Adventure starring Emmy Award-nominated Darley Newman.

Daniel Goodman, museum director, gave the highlights of 2018, which saw increased attendance, more special tours, more revenue, new festivals in their second successful year, and new partnership programs.

Last year Las Golondrinas volunteers donated 31,000 hours, worth more than $765,000 according to the organization Independent Sector.

Laura Gonzales, manager of education and volunteers, shared stories of visitors, including children who didn’t want to leave the Museums Fiesta de Los Niños event because they were having such a wonderful time, and museum supporters and volunteers that helped the museum recover from the 2018 flood.

El Rancho de las Golondrinas (The Ranch of the Swallows) is the nation’s only living history museum focused on the experience of Spanish settlers in what is now the American Southwest.

It was founded in 1972 on the site of an original rancho in La Cienega dating to the early 1700s and features 34 historic structures and agricultural fields on 200 scenic acres.

Volunteering is Fun!

This month’s volunteer profile features The Salladin Family!
The Salladin Family
Briar: (LEFT) ” I love volunteering at Golondrinas because it has helped me learn about New Mexican and US history as well as many useful skills that are historical and useful in present day. Volunteering lets me dress in cool costumes, get outside in the beautiful landscape, teach others, see kids get excited about learning, and has helped me break out of my shell. As a result of my time at the ranch, I have become a better public speaker, teacher, and actress. I enjoy being at the Raton School House, selling items during festivals, helping with admissions, and being at Sierra Village.”
Aidan: (RIGHT)” I enjoy volunteering at the ranch because there is so much history that I have learned that I never knew before and it helps me continue to learn every day. Working together with the volunteers and staff feels like one big extended family. I love seeing and working with the animals, meeting the visitors, and learning new skills. Without my volunteering experience here, my life would be less interesting and fun, overall. I am more comfortable being around and communicating with people. Playing Billy the Kid at Spirits of New Mexico’s Past Festival was the most fun experience, ever! I also enjoy helping at admissions, at the Raton School House, Sierra Village, or wherever I am needed.”
SuZanne: (MIDDLE)” Working in the Swallows Nest Gift Shop, giving tours, demonstrating, and interpreting at the ranch over the past few years has been like finding and extending our own caring, communal family. Golondrinas has helped me advance and improve as a person, and as a parent. I am extremely grateful for the staff, volunteers, and visitors for lending to, and supporting our growth as individuals, and as a family. This has been one of the best experiences and most meaningful choices that our life path has taken us on, thus far. We are all delightfully living, and making history, together.”

Volunteer Training Begins This Month!

Every year, El Rancho de las Golondrinas presents training sessions for all of our new and seasoned volunteers.  Staff members as well as noted authorities present the material for these sessions.  Topics are wide ranging including an overview of the Ranch and its 34 historic buildings, its founding and history as a stop (paraje) on The Royal Road (El Camino Real), Northern New Mexico history, emergency procedures, etc.
All volunteer training sessions take place at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, 334 Los Pinos Road, Santa Fe in the Paloheimo Education Center.  Parking is free and all training sessions are free.  Most training sessions also include a walking tour of the property including its historic buildings.  Training begins at 9:00 A.M. and usually ends at 3:00 P.M.
For 2019, volunteer training sessions will be held as follows:
Saturday, March 9
Saturday, March 16
Saturday, March 23
Saturday, March 30
Volunteering is fun!  Just take a look at our volunteer profiles featured in this E-Newsletter.  Folks love the opportunity to join with neighbors and friends and learn about the history here.  They enjoy the interaction with other volunteers and our guests who come to Las Golondrinas from all over the world.  The beauty and serenity of Las Golondrinas can’t be matched and is a joy just in itself.
Come out, join in and become a volunteer at El Rancho de las Golondrinas! We hope to see you at our volunteer training sessions in 2019!  Call Laura Gonzales at (505) 471-2261, ext. 212, or email her at laura@golondrinas.org to register.