AT&T Funding Helps Launch Arkansas Story Bus
$50,000 gift will support Pryor Center's new mobile unitThursday, March 07, 2013
The Pryor Center interviews a student at a workshop for the Fort Smith Historical Society. Image courtesy of the Pryor Center.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – AT&T has awarded $50,000 to the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History to support the launch of the Arkansas Story Bus. AT&T is the first corporate sponsor to provide funding directly for this initiative.
The Arkansas Story Bus will be unique in the nation as a video- and audio-equipped, traveling, oral history studio dedicated to preserving the history of a single state and its people. The Pryor Center will work with local historical societies in selecting the topics to be recorded and specific interviewees.
“We are thrilled that AT&T has chosen to support the Pryor Center with this gift,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “Because of their generosity, the Arkansas Story Bus will significantly broaden the capabilities of the Pryor Center and raise its statewide visibility.”
The Pryor Center has a proven model for success using Northwest Arkansas high school students in the Environmental and Spatial Technology, or EAST, Initiative to conduct oral history projects. Students at four area high schools recorded 40 interviews with military veterans, scanned photos, collected biographical data, transcribed the interviews and created presentations about their projects. This work was donated to the Pryor Center’s archive, and the teachers and students involved greatly benefited from the experience. The center plans to use local students to help conduct Story Bus interviews as well.
“AT&T is committed to working with high school students to provide real-world training that will prepare them for the future,” said Ed Drilling, president of AT&T Arkansas. “We are excited to partner with the David and Barbara Pryor Center to launch the Arkansas Story Bus. Arkansans will benefit from this project through the collection of oral and visual history and students will gain valuable training along the road.”
“We salute the University of Arkansas and the Pryor Center for their work to preserve our state history,” Drilling added. An event in early spring will be planned to celebrate AT&T’s gift to the Arkansas Story Bus, and a formal launch of the bus will occur this summer.
“Thanks to AT&T, we will be able to expand our mobile interviewing program across the state and pursue similar educational projects. In particular, by virtue of its self-contained technology, the mobile unit will make it possible to conduct Pryor Center oral history training and programs in high schools where students would not otherwise have access to the needed equipment,” said Randy Dixon, director of the Pryor Center. “The center intends for high school students to help research interviewees and the historical context around the interviewees’ experiences, act as interviewers, transcribe portions of interviews, learn about best practices in oral history recordings, and turn in their work, following proper procedures to donate the materials they gather to the Pryor Center and their local historical societies and libraries.”
The Pryor Center also plans to partner with the University of Arkansas office of diversity affairs to ensure that students from underrepresented parts of the state are afforded the opportunity to participate in the Arkansas Story Bus.
Randy Dixon, director
Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History
Jennifer Holland, director of development communications
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