National Humanities Alliance recognizes Delta Center’s “Most Southern” as exemplary program

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“Most Southern” Institute participants view a Mississippi Blues Trail marker in Scott, Mississippi.

 

The National Humanities Alliance recently recognized The Delta Center for Culture and Learning’s “Most Southern Place on Earth” Institute as a one of a select group of high-impact programs funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“Most Southern” is featured on the alliance’s NEH For All website, www.nehforall.org, which highlights impacts of the NEH across the United States.

“It is our great privilege to feature the Delta Center on NEH for All, a website that showcases outstanding NEH-funded work in every state,” said Dr. Stephen Kidd, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance. “The National Endowment for the Humanities funds thousands of projects across the country. Among these, the Delta Center’s work with The Most Southern Place on Earth is truly exemplary.”

On the website, “Most Southern” is noted for having impacts in several key measurement areas, including Enriching K-12 Education; Providing Lifelong Learning Opportunities for Diverse Audiences; Facilitating Community Dialogue; Fostering Local Tourism Economies; and Promoting Civic Education.

The alliance also notes that “Most Southern” is part of the Delta Center’s larger work managing the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.

“Through Most Southern, The Delta Center attracts K-12 educators from throughout the country to the Mississippi Delta,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center and executive director of the MDNHA. “They spend a full week here learning about the region’s diverse cultural heritage, and they take those lessons home to their school communities. These educational and cultural heritage tourists become heritage area ambassadors who tell our stories nationwide. Some of them even come back with student groups and family members.”

Summer 2018 will be the ninth year that the NEH has funded “Most Southern.” Total funding received since the program’s inception is over $1.5 million.

Over 500 K-12 educators have completed the workshops. The program continues to generate considerable demand among the nation’s top K-12 educators, including award-winning principals, librarians, and National Board Certified teachers. This month, The Delta Center received over 300 applications competing for 72 slots to participate in the June and July 2018 sessions.

“The Delta Center has brought hundreds of K–12 teachers to the Mississippi Delta and provided them with an intellectually-rigorous educational experience that helps them understand and become ambassadors for the region’s rich cultural heritage,” said Kidd. “By helping newcomers explore the region’s cultural heritage sites, the Delta Center boosts its local economy. At the same time, the quality teaching practices the Delta Center fosters have had a deep impact on schools across our nation.”

The National Humanities Alliance Foundation advances the humanities by conducting and supporting research on the humanities and communicating the value of the humanities to a range of audiences including elected officials and the general public. For more information, visit https://www.nhalliance.org/.

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the MDNHA and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project and the NEH “Most Southern Place on Earth” Institute. For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/.

MDNHA, Delta Center share “Heart & Soul” of Mississippi Delta in D.C.

Senator Thad Cochran (second from right) recently enjoyed a visit with representatives from The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University. The meeting included a performance by Delta State graduate Keith Johnson (second from left), the great nephew of Muddy Waters. The Delta Center is the management entity for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA). Also pictured (left to right) are Shelia Winters, DCCL program associate for projects; Dr. Rolando Herts, DCCL director and MDNHA executive director; Rhonda Price, executive director of Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area; and Lee Aylward, DCCL program associate for education and community outreach.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University recently attended the Alliance of National Heritage Areas’ annual meeting on behalf of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. The meeting took place during Valentine’s Day week in Washington, D.C.

During the Alliance’s “Heart & Soul” congressional breakfast at the Rayburn House Office Building, the MDNHA and Delta State were honored for receiving National Park Service Centennial Awards for creating the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership. This cultural heritage interpretation project has engaged over 1,000 residents and visitors in honoring the lives of unsung African American church mothers featured in Alysia Burton Steele’s book “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom.”

Delta State was the only higher education institution and MDNHA is the only National Heritage Area in the country that received NPS Centennial Awards this year.

In recognition of the MDNHA’s rich cultural heritage, the Alliance of National Heritage Areas invited Keith Johnson, “Prince of the Delta Blues,” to be the featured performer at the “Heart & Soul” breakfast. A graduate of the Delta Music Institute at Delta State, Johnson is currently a graduate assistant in The Delta Center pursuing a Master of Business Administration at Delta State. He also is the great nephew of Delta Blues legend, Muddy Waters.

After the breakfast, the Delta delegation met with Mississippi legislators Senator Thad Cochran, Congressman Bennie Thompson and Senator Roger Wicker. They shared copies of the MDNHA’s 2014-2016 progress report and forthcoming economic impact study. During the visit with Cochran, they were joined by Rhonda Price, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area.

“I am very pleased that our team was able to thank Cochran, Thompson and Wicker in person for their continued support of National Heritage Areas,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center and executive director of the MDNHA. “The Mississippi Delta, Hills and Gulf Coast National Heritage Areas are acknowledged by so many of our colleagues and supporters for doing great work in the communities we proudly serve.”

 

Johnson was especially excited to visit Cochran’s office where he was invited to perform his song “Come to Mississippi.”

“The song explores the culture of the Mississippi Delta. It expresses the feeling of blues musicians that are from Mississippi and includes references to hit songs they have written,” said Johnson. “I wrote this song so that I could connect with the Delta’s heritage, which includes blues music and more. I am honored that Senator Cochran invited me to perform it for him.”

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the MDNHA and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/.

The MDNHA is a cultural heritage partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service. Led by Herts, it includes

18 counties that contain land located in the alluvial floodplain of the Mississippi Delta: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo. The MDNHA was designated by U.S. Congress in 2009 and is governed by a board of directors representing agencies and organizations defined in the congressional legislation. More information about the MDNHA, including the complete approved management plan, is available at www.msdeltaheritage.com.

MDNHA offers $200,000 in grant money

  BB King Day representatives from Mississippi Valley State University with MDNHA board member Meg Cooper (far left) and executive director Dr. Rolando Herts (far right). Mississippi Valley is one of several organizations that received MDNHA grants in 2017.

BB King Day representatives from Mississippi Valley State University with MDNHA board member Meg Cooper (far left) and executive director Dr. Rolando Herts (far right). Mississippi Valley is one of several organizations that received MDNHA grants in 2017.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is making up to $200,000 available for grants in 2018. MDNHA will hold a series of workshops across the Delta to present information about available grants that support local projects and activities that further MDNHA’s mission of fostering preservation, perpetuation and celebration of the Delta’s heritage through a climate of collaboration and sustainable economic development.

The deadline for applications is Monday, March 26, 2018. Nonprofits, educational institutions, schools, units of local government and others are eligible for the grants and encouraged to attend one of the three workshops. Grants of up to $24,500 are available.

At each workshop, MDNHA will present the guidelines for the program, and review application and reporting requirements.  Other resources available to support heritage and cultural programs will also be discussed.  Complete program regulations and application forms will be available on MDNHA’s website at www.msdeltaheritage.com.

The workshops are scheduled for:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 – 1PM to 4PM, The Capps Center, Room 101 (Seminar Room)
920 US Highway 82 West, Indianola, MS

Thursday, February 1, 2018 – 1PM to 4PM, The Haraway Center, Northwest MS Community College, 4975 Highway 51 North, Senatobia, MS (campus map available at http://www.northwestms.edu)

Thursday, February 8, 2017 – 1PM to 4PM, Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, 1302 Adams Street, Vicksburg, MS

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is a cultural heritage partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service.  Led by Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, the MDNHA includes 18 counties that contain land located in the alluvial floodplain of the Mississippi Delta: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo.

The MDNHA was designated by U.S. Congress in 2009 and is governed by a board of directors representing agencies and organizations defined in the congressional legislation. More information about the MDNHA, including the complete approved management plan, is available at www.msdeltaheritage.com.  Information about the grants program is also available at this website.

For more information, contact The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at 662-846-4311, or email swinters@deltastate.edu or grants@msdeltaheritage.com.

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the MDNHA and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit www.deltacenterdsu.com.

MDNHA receives recognition from National Park Service

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The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area was recently recognized for it's work by the National Park Service. As part of that recognition, a press release crafted by NPS was sent to media outlets around the world. Below is a copy of their release:

National Park Service Centennial Award Recognizes Mississippi Delta Heritage Initiative

ATLANTA – This week, the National Park Service (NPS) presented the agency’s prestigious Director’s Centennial Award to Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) and Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University for their work establishing the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership in Mississippi. The award celebrates the efforts of NPS staff and partners who have significantly advanced the NPS Centennial goal of connecting with and creating the next generation of national park visitors, supporters, and advocates.

In March 2015, MDNHA staff partnered with Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and author Alysia Burton Steele to host community meetings and events highlighting oral histories and stories of African-American church mothers in the Mississippi Delta. In response to demand for this program, Steele and the MDNHA continued to host events at colleges, universities, and churches across the state of Mississippi. The partnership culminated in March 2016 with a presentation at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, DC in celebration of Women’s History Month and the NPS Centennial.

“The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and the Delta Center demonstrated exceptional leadership and creativity in organizing community gatherings with Alysia Burton Steele that attracted more than a thousand attendees,” said Chris Abbett, National Park Service associate regional director for partnerships, interpretation, and education.

Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center and MDNHA executive director said, “We are honored to receive this esteemed recognition from the National Park Service for this important cultural heritage development project."

"We are thrilled with the results of the Delta Jewels partnership," said Dr. Myrtis Tabb, MDNHA board chair. "This program was one of our very first and was extremely successful right off the bat. We are eager to build upon that success with continued partnerships that will help share the diverse stories of the Mississippi Delta."

About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. 

Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebookwww.facebook.com/nationalparkservice and Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice.
About the Mississippi Delta NHA: The MDNHA is a partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service. The mission of the MDNHA is to foster preservation, perpetuation, and celebration of the Mississippi Delta’s heritage through collaboration and sustainable economic development. For more information, visitwww.msdeltaheritage.com.

 This week, the National Park Service (NPS) presented the agency’s prestigious Director’s Centennial Award to Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) and Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University for their work establishing the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership in Mississippi. The partners collaborated with Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and author Alysia Burton Steele in a yearlong initiative through Spring 2016 to host community engagement activities featuring oral histories and stories of African-American church mothers in the Mississippi Delta. Pictured (l to r): Delta State University Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Charles McAdams, Delta Center for Culture and Learning and Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area executive Dr. Rolando Herts, Delta State University President William N. LaForge, Vicksburg National Military Park Acting Superintendent Fonce' Bates, and Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Board Chair Dr. Myrtis Tabb. Credit: Will Jacks.

This week, the National Park Service (NPS) presented the agency’s prestigious Director’s Centennial Award to Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) and Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University for their work establishing the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership in Mississippi. The partners collaborated with Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and author Alysia Burton Steele in a yearlong initiative through Spring 2016 to host community engagement activities featuring oral histories and stories of African-American church mothers in the Mississippi Delta. Pictured (l to r): Delta State University Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Charles McAdams, Delta Center for Culture and Learning and Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area executive Dr. Rolando Herts, Delta State University President William N. LaForge, Vicksburg National Military Park Acting Superintendent Fonce' Bates, and Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Board Chair Dr. Myrtis Tabb. Credit: Will Jacks.

MDNHA orientation exhibits installed at Mississippi Welcome Centers

The MDNHA recently installed a series of orientation exhibit banners at the four state welcome centers located in the region. This is another key action item from the MDNHA Management Plan that has now been completed.

The exhibits consist of two banners that give visitors general information about the MDNHA. The first banner highlights the MDNHA’s five cultural heritage themes: 

1. The MS River and the Land It Embraces, which illuminates how the Mississippi Delta was formed, Native American culture, agriculture, floods, and the natural world.

2. The Culture of the Blues and the Birth of An American Sound, which is about Blues music and its influence on American music and culture, from jazz to rock n roll to country, as well as Blues people, places, and events.

3. Moving Toward Freedom: Changing America's Character in the Struggle for Rights, which includes slavery and sharecropping, the Great Migration, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement, and race relations in the Delta today.

4. Growing More than Cotton: The Delta as a Wellspring of Creativity, which celebrates literature, food, the arts, and religion here in the Delta.

5. The Delta Divide: Creating the Delta's Diverse Communities, which highlights the stories of various immigrant groups that came to the Mississippi Delta and shaped the region with their distinctive cultural practices, including Chinese, Italians, Jews, and Lebanese.

The second banner features an image of an iconic Mississippi Delta landmark in the area surrounding each of the welcome centers. Listed below are the state welcome centers, their locations, and the landmarks featured in their areas.

Welcome Center Location Featured MDNHA Landmark
DeSoto County Welcome Center I-55 South
Hernando, Mississippi
Mississippi River at Tunica River Park
Tunica, Mississippi
Delma Furniss Hospitality Station Intersection of Highway 49 and Highway 61
Lula, Mississippi
Dr. T.R.M. Howard Freedom Trail Marker
Mound Bayou, Mississippi
Washington County Welcome Center Highway 82 and Reed Road
Greenville, Mississippi
Chinese Cemetery
Greenville, Mississippi
Warren County Welcome Center 4210 Washington Street
Vicksburg, Mississippi
Mont Helena
Rolling Fork, Mississippi

MDNHA Hosts Grantee Orientation

 Grant recipients from 2016 and 2017 pose together during a break in the recent MDNHA grantee orientation.

Grant recipients from 2016 and 2017 pose together during a break in the recent MDNHA grantee orientation.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area recently hosted administrators for the twenty projects that received funding through the MDNHA’s grant program. The organization has funded over $300,000 over the last two years to projects throughout the Delta.

“I want to thank the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area as well as the National Park Service for this grant,” said Leslie Miller, a volunteer with the Rolling Fork Visitors Center and Museum. “Without the support of these organizations, we’d have never figured out how to tell the story of our community. Now, we have such a wonderful space that helps educate visitors and locals about the history and importance of our area.”

The funded work celebrates the diversity of the Delta’s rich cultural heritage including restoration of historical sites such as the St. Francis Xavier Convent in Vicksburg, establishment of a museum featuring the legacy of Dr. L. C. Dorsey at the Delta Health Center in the historic black town of Mound Bayou, examination of Delta Chinese culture’s influence on Delta cuisine, and celebration of the “Chitlin’ Circuit Years” during B.B. King Day at Mississippi Valley State University.

“Each of these agencies is to be commended for the great work they are doing,” said Dr. Myrtis Tabb, Chair of the MDNHA Board of Directors. “It is always inspiring to see what happens when communities are active in solving the needs of their friends and neighbors. The MDNHA is proud to play a part in empowering these amazing visions that will improve each of the areas in which they are implemented.”

“It was an amazing day meeting all of the people responsible for the important work being done throughout the Delta,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, Director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, which serves as the managing entity for MDNHA. “This meeting truly demonstrated that we are building a collaborative regional network through the grant program. We are excited to be a part of empowering projects that will have a tremendous impact of the citizens of the region, and we look forward to building many more partnerships in the years to come.”

Grant recipients and funded projects include:

ArtPlace Mississippi - Delta Wild: Connecting people to the Mississippi Delta’s natural habitat and resources
Bologna Performing Arts Center, Delta State UniversityPublic performance of “Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till”; Development of a new track of classes for its CORE Arts Camp that showcases tales of origination in song and story
Cleveland/Bolivar County Chamber of CommerceCleveland Chamber/Tourism office relocation and signage plan; Restoration of the Façade and Interior of the Cleveland Depot building
Cleveland Music Foundation - Exploring a Culture of Creativity: Engaging students in telling local stories through music at Grammy Museum Mississippi
Delta Blues Museum - Boogie Children, Celebrating John Lee Hooker website and educational programs honoring Hooker’s 100th birthday
Delta Hands for Hope - Photography and Oral History Program for high school students
Delta Health Center, Inc.Establish the Dr. L. C. Dorsey Community Health Center Museum in Mound Bayou
Delta State University Archives & Museum – Amzie Moore House Museum and MS Delta Chinese Heritage Museum docent program; Preserving the historic Mississippi Delta Chinese foodways culture through stories of family, place and cuisine
DeSoto Foundation - First Contact Historical Trail: Native Americans’ first encounter with Europeans in the Mississippi Delta
Dockery Farms FoundationRestore and preserve the historic Dockery Farms cotton gin, and develop historical exhibits within the gin building
Greenville Arts Council – Provide artist residencies to teachers and students that preserve the rich artistic traditions of the Mississippi Delta
Lower Mississippi River Foundation - Between the Levees: Telling the story of the Mississippi River batture
Mississippi Heritage TrustConduct four Historic Preservation Toolkit workshops that teach local towns and organizations how to leverage funding to preserve historic places
Mississippi State UniversityGenerate knowledge about and provide estimates of the economic value of preserving sites of cultural significance in the Delta
Mississippi State University Extension ServiceWarren CountyThe Heritage Garden – Know your Roots demonstration garden at Vicksburg National Military Park
Mississippi Valley State UniversityDesign and present symposium lectures, panel discussions, musical performances and other work in support of the B. B. King Day symposium
Museum of the Mississippi Delta - Greenwood Leflore and the Choctaw Indians museum exhibit and research monograph
Rolling Fork Visitors Center and Museum - Multimedia interpretive display expansion and exhibit preservation
Rosedale Freedom Project - Unsung Voices of Bolivar County: civil rights stories past and present collected by high school students
Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation - 1868 St. Francis Xavier Convent restoration

Representatives from various grantee organizations reported on the positive impacts that the MDNHA grants have had on their projects. 

“Because of this grant we’ve been able to share both the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum and the Amzie Moore House Museum with so many more people than we would have been able to without it,” said Emily Jones, Director of Delta State University Archives and Museums. “It’s been very rewarding to recognize that African Americans and Chinese are in the Delta, of the Delta, and represent a piece of our history.”

In DeSoto County the grant was used to help with the First Contact Trail, an educational initiative designed to give better understanding to Hernando DeSoto’s crossing of the Mississippi River. 

“We worked with the Native American community as well as local officials to develop this trail,” said Susan Fernandez, a representative assisting with the project. “This wasn’t just about Hernando DeSoto. This project alsowas about the people who lived here before DeSoto. We wanted to be sure to tell all sides of the story.”

The Rosedale Freedom Project used the grant to implement storytelling projects based on oral histories from the area. 

“One of the things our students decided they wanted to do was a podcast to tell the story of education history in their community,” said Jeremiah Smith, Director of the RFP. “The students went out and collected oral histories that connected the past of school segregation to present conditions. They realized that history isn’t just something that happened in the past. It has given them a greater sense of why things are the way they are today, which can help them find creative solutions for a better tomorrow.”

Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Announced

 The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area recently awarded over $150,000 in grants, bringing it's two-year total of awards to more than $300,000 to organizations managing projects throughout the Mississippi Delta region.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area recently awarded over $150,000 in grants, bringing it's two-year total of awards to more than $300,000 to organizations managing projects throughout the Mississippi Delta region.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) is pleased to announce over $155,000 in grants for nine projects focused on cultural and heritage development in the Mississippi Delta.

The funded work celebrates the diversity of the Delta’s rich cultural heritage including restoration of historical sites such as the Dockery Farms cotton gin, the establishment of a museum featuring the legacy of Dr. L. C. Dorsey at the Delta Health Center, and the influence of the Delta’s Chinese culture in Delta cuisine.

“We are pleased to support a broad range of work from communities and organizations dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the Delta,” said Dr. Myrtis Tabb, Chair of the MDNHA Board of Directors.  “We are encouraged by the number and scope of applicants in our second year of the Small Grants Program, and hope others will be motivated to participate in future rounds of funding.”

“We do our best to fund work in all parts of the Delta, and in a variety of areas of interest that complement MDNHA’s mission,” said Meg Cooper, Chair of the MDNHA Grants Committee.  “We have now approved a total of over $300,000 in projects in our two years of grant making.”

“The MDNHA is designed to engage and empower organizations and individuals to promote the cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, which serves as the management entity for MDNHA.  “This partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service is crucial to the preservation, perpetuation and celebration of the Delta’s heritage that is at the core of our mission.”

Grant recipients and their funded projects include:

Delta Health Center, Inc.establish the Dr. L. C. Dorsey Community Health Center Museum in Mound Bayou

Dockery Farms Foundationrestore and preserve the historic Dockery Farms cotton gin, and develop historical exhibits within the gin building

The Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State Universitydevelopment of a new track of classes for its CORE Arts Camp that showcases tales of origination in song and story

Mississippi Valley State Universitydesign and present symposium lectures, panel discussions, musical performances and other work in support of the B. B. King Day symposium

Mississippi State Universitygenerate knowledge about and provide estimates of the economic value of preserving sites of cultural significance in the Delta

Greenville Arts Councilprovide artist residencies to teachers and students that preserve the rich artistic traditions of the Mississippi Delta

Mississippi Heritage Trustconduct four Historic Preservation Toolkit workshops that teach local towns and organizations how to leverage funding to preserve historic places

Delta State University, Department of Archives and HistoryPreserving the historic Mississippi Delta Chinese foodways culture through stories of family, place and cuisine

Cleveland/Bolivar County Chamber of CommerceRestoration of the Façade and Interior of the Cleveland Depot building

The MDNHA includes 18 counties that contain land located in the alluvial floodplain of the Mississippi Delta: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo. The MDNHA was designated by U.S. Congress in 2009 and is governed by a board of directors representing agencies and organizations defined in the congressional legislation. More information about the MDNHA, including the complete approved management plan, is available at www.msdeltaheritage.com.

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the MDNHA and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project and the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshops.  For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/.

 

National Heritage Areas of Mississippi host Collaboration Clinic

 Collaboration Clinic participants from Mississippi and across the country engage in a team visioning exercise at the Biloxi Visitors Center.

Collaboration Clinic participants from Mississippi and across the country engage in a team visioning exercise at the Biloxi Visitors Center.

Three National Heritage Areas – Mississippi Delta, Mississippi Hills, and Mississippi Gulf Coast – held a Collaboration Clinic recently at the Biloxi Visitors Center. The workshop was facilitated by the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. 

"Collaboration Clinics are a proposed model for helping NPS staff, stakeholders, and partners develop more effective skills for collaboration,” said Elizabeth Smith-Incer, Mississippi Field Office Director for the Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program. “Planners, superintendents, and other decision makers need this kind of training to engage communities as we make decisions about the resources we preserve and protect."

This is the first Collaboration Clinic held in the Southeast Region and the first hosted by a group of National Heritage Areas. Since 2014, Collaboration Clinics have been offered over a dozen times in parks and sites across the country including New York City, Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada, New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park in Massachusetts, and Zion National Park in Utah. 

“We were honored to host this first clinic,” said Rhonda Price, Executive Director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast NHA. “I think collaboration and partnerships are keys to a successful NHA. We are excited to start working together on joint projects like the NPS/NHA passport program.”

 Collaboration Clinic participants learn about bird tourism at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.

Collaboration Clinic participants learn about bird tourism at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.

Staff and board members from the three National Heritage Areas attended along with representatives from Visit Mississippi and the Department of Archives & History in Jackson. Out-of-state attendees included representatives from the Alliance of National Heritage Areas, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the NPS Office of Partnerships & Philanthropic Stewardship based in Washington, DC.

“In order for National Heritage Areas to thrive, collaboration is vital.”  Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area Executive Director Mary Cates Williams stated. “I was very thankful to the National park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program for facilitating this workshop and allowing Mississippi’s three NHA’s to discuss ways to expand and grow our programs. I can speak for all of us when I say that we are grateful to have the support of not only the National Park Service but our Mississippi Congressional delegation as well.” 

The workshop included discussions and exercises on a range of topics including achieving results through collaboration, improving communication, and managing conflict. 

The group also heard presentations from Dr. Rolando Herts and Lee Aylward of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University which serves as the management entity for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. The presentations were about the passport program and the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership. 

 “We discussed developing a statewide Passport to Your National Parks map and other cooperative marketing strategies to promote tourism to our areas,” said Dr. Herts. “We also learned about bird tourism partnership opportunities at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center in Moss Point. This was a very productive workshop that will help all of us work together to better serve Delta, Hills, and Gulf Coast residents and visitors.”