Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, Says Miles are No Longer a Barrier for "MILES" Students Learning About the American West

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Because of distance, field trips to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming (just east of Yellowstone National Park) are often prohibitive for area students in grades 4 – 8. Thanks to a generous grant, that distance is no longer a barrier to a visit to the Center.

A "MILES" classroom thanks Sinclair Oil for their visit to BBHC

We’re located hundreds of miles from many small, isolated towns that have little access to arts and humanities collections and programs.

Students in grades 4-8, and their teachers, in the region of Northwest Wyoming are all smiles with "MILES," an educational program of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming.

This western museum complex just east of Yellowstone National Park is a popular field trip destination for area students. Now, thanks to a grant from the Sinclair Oil Corporation, a greater number of classrooms can visit—regardless of their distance from the facility.

Traveling under the auspices of the Center’s “MILES” (Museum Interpretation, Learning, and Enrichment for Students) program, students who are far enough away from Cody to necessitate an overnight stay have their transportation and lodging expenses covered. The grant enables students to visit the Center who might not otherwise have the opportunity.

To provide access to its collections and in-person programs for school children in the region, the Historical Center created the MILES program in 1999. This initiative makes overnight field trips a reality for schools that were previously unable to visit the Center because of distance and cost.

“We are a major social, educational, and cultural resource to the people—especially the school children—of our region,” explains School Programs Coordinator Megan Smith. “The goal of the MILES program is to allow school children and teachers in our area greater access to our collections, facilities, programs, and staff.”

An anomaly of sorts, this museum—easily on par with the nation’s greatest western museums—is situated in the northwest corner of Wyoming, a vast, sparsely populated, and rural state. “We’re located hundreds of miles from many small, isolated towns that have little access to arts and humanities collections and programs,” Smith continues. “The Historical Center addresses this challenge through vibrant educational outreach programming [videos, learning trunks, education kits, etc.] with area schools. Even so, as great as our materials are, they can only hint at a full museum and cultural experience.”

MILES addresses curriculum benchmarks for several subjects in grades 4 – 8. The Center’s educators use a multiple learning approach that addresses the needs of different learning styles and increases student retention rates. The MILES program provides a content-rich, enjoyable, and participatory educational experience for students and their teachers in underserved, rural communities.

“Our MILES students visit a world-class museum in their own state/region and are able to connect with the objects that they have learned about in their classroom,” Smith adds. “They learn about the history of this area and see the objects that people used to make that history happen. The outing itself is also a life experience for the children since many have never ventured far from their homes.

“As they eat in restaurants, stay in motels, and travel with a group, they also learn about travel in general. MILES becomes more than just a trip; it becomes an adventure in every sense of the word.”

For more information, contact Smith at megans@bbhc.org or 307.578.4028.

Committed to connecting people with the Spirit of the American West since 1927, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms technology and the nature of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is open all year long, but hours vary by season. For general information, visit http://www.bbhc.org, or call 307.587.4771.

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Marguerite House

Megan Smith
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