VOLUNTEER VOICE: Keith Austin

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.

RESTORE THE PAST
ENRICH THE PRESENT
ENDOW THE FUTURE

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.

We Will Miss Our Friends

George Smith

George Smith could always be counted on to have a smile and a song. During Spanish Colonial Days Mr. Smith could be found with a literal banjo on his knee, at the Wheelwright Shop and the Shepherd’s Cabin. No matter where George was he had an audience. George first became a volunteer in 1997 earning himself a bolo with a gold swallow and was close to hitting the 4,000 hour mark. Thanks for everything George!

Deirdre Lennihan
Deirdre Lennihan volunteered at El Rancho de Las Golondrinas for over 20 years. She was a mainstay with the weavers, was a dynamo in the dye shed and taught many volunteers who came after her. She was a master on the malacate, spinning fine yard. We thank her for many years of service and contributions to Las Golondrinas.

Volunteering is Fun!

Lous Callaghan
This month’s volunteer profile features Lois Callaghan.
“The first time I visited Santa Fe and New Mexico was in 1960. Overwhelmed by the beautiful sky, the mountains, and the friendly people, my dream of living in this very special place finally came true in 1999.  Retiring after thirty years as an educator, my husband, Dick, and I packed our household and moved to Santa Fe.
While training as a volunteer for the Museum of International Folk Art in 2000, a friend suggested I also attend Las Golondrinas’ training to fully discover the history and Hispanic culture of New Mexico. This was a very good idea for someone from New Jersey!
One of my first opportunities to enjoy sharing history with visitors was as a Josefina docent. During those early years, we included “Lunch With Josefina” and a chance to visit with our guests. A favorite place to be on Fridays was the schoolhouse. Watching the burros helped pass the time. I enjoyed the quiet of the fields and the changing colors in the fall. Many spring and fall Spanish Colonial Days found me in the same location, appreciating the opportunity to meet so many children — a reminder of all the children I had known through my years as a teacher. On other Spanish Colonial Days, I helped with candle dipping and teaching crafts. Eventually, I also spent a few hours in the country store, the Baca house and making tortillas on the comal.
Every time I arrive at Las Golondrinas, I feel the serenity of the open fields as the everyday world disappears. I am fortunate to have been a docent at Las Golondrinas all these years.
The past eighteen years have flown by. During that time I have also been a docent at the Santa Fe Opera and Chamber Music performances. I am still a docent at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts and Cancer Care. My husband, Dick, was also a volunteer at Las Golondrinas, but passed away in 2009. My daughter, Lee Ann, and her husband, Mathew, live in New York, but love to visit Santa Fe.
I have recently moved to El Castillo and am enjoying renewing acquaintances with friends I have known through these past years.”

Volunteering is Fun!

Volunteer Jerry Kerr

This month’s volunteer profile features Jerry Kerr.

“Being a volunteer with El Rancho de las Golondrinas has been a rejuvenating experience for me. I majored in American Studies in my undergraduate (UMBC) and graduate (U of Wyoming) programs with a focus on American History and Museums. My first credible job in New Mexico came in 1973 with the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology’s Education Department. It was a grant-based position and short-lived. My work in New Mexico, before I moved to Maryland, included 4 years at the Steaksmith Restaurant when it was downtown (1976–1980), selling Native American art, freelance writing and legal administration. From there, my career went in several different directions before settling into a 27-year career as a bank administrator in Maryland.

Coming to El Rancho de las Golondrinas has been like coming home. I had always felt that I would come back to New Mexico, but had not anticipated finding a second home with El Rancho de las Golondrinas. I had done some volunteer work with the B & O Railroad Museum while in Maryland, but it took my retirement and moving back to New Mexico before I found some satisfaction for what had been my avocation all those years while ‘administrating’ for restaurants, law firms and banks.

I love giving tours to folks of all ages and I like the fact that I often learn new things from those folks too! My focus the last two years has been the big mill (El Molino Grande) and will continue to be so, but I hope to contribute in other areas too.”

Volunteer Training Dates Set for 2019

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! Please contact Laura Gonzales at (505) 471-2261, ext. 212 to register.