Philanthropy and Historic Preservation

Grade Level: 
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Nonprofit Organizations
Video Clip and Discussion Guide: We make better decisions for our future when we learn about our past. Museums, recreations, and preservation of historic resources are often funded by philanthropy and staffed by volunteers. The preservation of historic things and places is supported by business (i.e., antique dealers), government (i.e., museums), and philanthropy (i.e., nonprofits and volunteers). This film shows the preservation of a lighthouse and a narrow gage railroad.

Anticipatory Set

Who we are today is stitched together from pieces of our past. We learn from the successes and failures of what came before. We also gain a richer perspective from tangibly experiencing life in another time through visits to historic sites. This film clip shares two tangible examples of historic preservation, maintained by passionate volunteers who want to give people a concrete experience of life in the past.



  1. How does preserving the past help our society with today and the future?
  2. What items, places, or events have been preserved in your community?
  3. The volunteers in the video were mostly elderly. What can young people do to contribute to the efforts? 
  4. Why did the railroad volunteer make a distributer cap out of a tuna can? How do you think he felt about the opportunity to work on that repair? 
  5. Why do you think volunteers want to work on historic projects?

Follow-Up Activity

Explore your own community for historic preservation. Are there buildings, tools, or other resources that give you a hint of your community's past? Visit the site and learn about the history and purpose for its preservation. Find out how you can volunteer or advocate to participate in its impact.