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CHAPS Program’s RGV Civil War Trail Project garners statewide award from THC

The Texas Historical Commission (THC) recently recognized the Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail project of UTRGV’s  Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools (CHAPS) Program at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley with its “Chairman’s Award for Community Education.” Pictured from left at the award ceremony are Dr. Russell Skowronek and Dr. Christopher Miller, both UTRGV history professors and CHAPS Program faculty; Roseann Bacha-Garza, CHAPS program manager; THC Chairman John Nau III; and THC Commissioner John Crain.

The Texas Historical Commission (THC) recently recognized the Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail project of UTRGV’s  Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools (CHAPS) Program at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley with its “Chairman’s Award for Community Education.” Pictured from left at the award ceremony are Dr. Russell Skowronek and Dr. Christopher Miller, both UTRGV history professors and CHAPS Program faculty; Roseann Bacha-Garza, CHAPS program manager; THC Chairman John Nau III; and THC Commissioner John Crain.  

By Gail Fagan

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – AUG. 19, 2016 – The Texas Historical Commission (THC) recently recognized the Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail project of the  Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools (CHAPS) Program at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley with its “Chairman’s Award for Community Education.”

The award was presented by THC Chairman John L. Nau III at the commission’s July quarterly meeting. Nau praised the project as “a robust educational initiative that reaches audiences from school children to tourists visiting the region.”

“The Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail is the epitome of a community-based project made possible with collaborations between city, county, state and federal organizations,” Nau said. “You have done a remarkable job interpreting and sharing an under-told chapter of our history. We are excited to see what the future holds for this esteemed initiative.”

The RGV Civil War Trail provides a virtual tour that includes a bilingual map, guide, brochure and associated web page and podcasts that take visitors to key sites through a six-county region in South Texas – from Laredo to Brownsville – significant to the not-often-told story of the region’s role in the Civil War.

Currently the CHAPS Program is formalizing relationships with K-12 school districts to develop and incorporate lessons plans using the RGV Civil War Trail project for use in their classrooms. The plans will align with the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) standards of the Texas Education Agency.

Additionally, traveling trunks under development will be taken to schools to provide students hands-on learning activities. The trunks will include replicas of uniforms and other accessories authenticated by the National Park Service.

Future goals for the trail project include creation of a series of short documentaries to further tell the stories of the Valley’s role in the Civil War. The pilot episode is titled “Cotton Times.”

Established in 2009 at then-UT Pan American, the CHAPS Program focuses on discovering the region’s untapped cultural and natural history, bringing them to light through research and developing them for education, tourism and community pride. This multi-disciplinary program combines the expertise from several UTRGV departments including anthropology, history, geology, and biology.

Dr. Russell Skowronek, professor of history and anthropology and the CHAPS Program principal investigator, said when the CHAPS Program was initiated, Dr. Lucas Hinojosa from the Las Porciones Society in Edinburg told him, “What took so long? We’ve been waiting for a program like this for decades.”

“Since our program’s inception, we have been developing projects such as the Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail which have garnered attention at the State and regional level,” Skowronek said. “This award from the Texas Historical Commission is recognition at the highest level of the State of Texas of the significant work that we have accomplished during the last seven years.  The CHAPS Program is living up to the potential stated by Hinojosa in 2009 as we continue to receive accolades for our role in community-based cultural and natural heritage awareness.”

Earlier this year, the THC also awarded CHAPS its Award of Merit for its efforts to preserve Texas’ cultural and historic resources.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Gail.Fagan@UTRGV.edu
Senior Writer / 956-665-7995

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications 956-665-2742