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Program Based at USU Receives 'Human Ties Award'

Thursday, Jun. 03, 2010

Nicholas Demas accepting the Human Ties Award for the Utah History Fair

Nicholas Demas (center) and the Utah History Fair were honored by the Utah Humanities Council with a Human Ties Award. The Utah History Fair is a hands-on learning outreach program based at USU. (Photo courtesy Utah Humanities Council.)

The Utah History Fair and its director Nicholas Demas are the recipients of a Human Ties Award, presented by the Utah Humanities Council. The Utah State University-based program was among several honored in an award ceremony May 27 in Salt Lake City.
The Utah History Fair is an outreach program that reaches across the state of Utah and is an affiliate of National History Day.
During the school year, the Utah History Fair provides exciting extra-curricular avenues for Utah’s fourth through 12th-grade students to showcase their research-based history projects. Annually, more than 10,000 students produce history fair projects in the hope of representing Utah at the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest at the University of Maryland.
“The Utah History Fair thrives in Utah, in part, because of its long association with the Utah Humanities Council,” Demas said.
The Utah History Fair celebrates its 30th anniversary in October 2010. It originated with an idea by Errol Jones, a history professor at USU in the then Department of History and Geography. Influenced by the Chicago Metro History Fair and National History Day, professor Jones began work to establish a research-based competition designed to involve Utah’s grade school students in original research. After a year of planning and fundraising, the program came to fruition with the support of many, but especially with the support of the Utah Endowment for the Humanities — now the Utah Humanities Council. Ross Peterson, USU vice president for university advancement, was among the Utah History Fair’s early founders and contributors, and he remains a long-time supporter of the program. He is also a past board member of the Utah Humanities Council.
Demas, the current Utah History Fair director, grew up on a small suburban farm west of West Bountiful in Utah. He attended Weber State University and Utah State University. He became director of the Utah History Fair in 2006 after working with the late Mike Johnson, then director, as the program’s graduate assistant. In addition to his work with the Utah History Fair, Demas has contributed to the Beehive Archive, a series of historical vignettes aired on Utah Public Radio.
Two additional programs were honored with the Human Ties Award, including “Smithfield Oral Histories” and William Thornley and “Confluence in Moab,” Laurie Collins and Andy Nettell.
The Utah Humanities Council established its annual award program in 1998 to “recognize individuals whose work exemplified UHC’s mission of helping Utahns explore the past, participate actively in the present and shape the future.”
The awards include the Governor’s Award in the Humanities, the organization’s highest honor, presented to a distinguished scholar whose career has enhanced understanding of the humanities among the general public. This year’s honoree is Fred Adams, founder of the Utah Shakespearean Festival.
The Founder’s Award honors individuals who have been instrumental to UHC’s success over the past 35 years. Delmont Oswald, UHC’s founding director, received the 2010 award.
Lauren Casjens of the Utah Office of Museum Services, is the recipient of the Humanities Partnership Award. The partnership award acknowledges long-term collaborative and cooperative relationships with entities that share UHC’s vision.
The Human Ties Award recognizes individuals and organization who work behind the scenes of highly successful public humanities projects and programs that have received UHC support in the past.
Keynote speaker for the May 27 awards was Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He joins the Human Ties Awards in conjunction with his nationwide “Civility Tour,” launched by Leach in November 2009 as a 50-state tour “not to express judgment on any issues of the day, but simply to try to make clear that coarseness in public manners can jeopardize social cohesion.”
The Utah Humanities Council is led by Executive Director Cynthia Buckingham.
“The Utah Humanities Council has spent the past 35 years promoting civic engagement — the idea that it is incumbent on each of use to read, discuss and reflect on important issues of the day,” Buckingham said. “The humanities enhance our understanding of different traditions, values and ideas and help us to imagine other ways of living and thinking. We are delighted to welcome Jim Leach to Utah to reinforce our message.”
The Utah Humanities Council is a nonprofit organization that provides lifelong learning across the state through programs that explore diverse traditions, values and ideas. UHC is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks Fund, the state of Utah and gifts from individuals, foundations and corporations. Each year, the council underwrites hundreds of educational and cultural programs throughout Utah.
Related links:
Source: Utah Humanities Council
Contact: Utah Humanities Council: Nici Maruri, (801) 359-9670, ext. 103,
USU Contact: Patrick Williams, (435) 797-1354,

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