Author Topic: Inviting Younger People to get Involved  (Read 18233 times)

Robert Hale

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2013, 01:40:30 PM »
If I did not have to work for covering my living expenses, and bump my retirement/disability income to 3600.oo a month I would volunteer fulltime at the museum. Yes, I would move up there just for that reason. I'm 42, and I want to do something that I want to do, rather than grind away doing something that really has no meaning to my life other than income. There is no "work" per say when you are doing something that you love.

Richard "Steam" Symmes

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2013, 07:32:16 PM »
Fred, that's encouraging to hear. Some of the other museums have "issues" ranging from politics to a remote location.  Those can be difficult to overcome.

I always have said that the WW&F seems to have done everything right from day one.  There have been no big battles among members that I'm aware of.  You are fortunate that the majority of the hard workers are "locals" who have turned the place into the local train club.  A place to go every day for retirees who like trains. People and circumstances like that are hard to come by.

Yet, again, as I said in an earlier posting, another ten or fifteen years will make a big difference in the work capabilities of these old hands who date back to the Percival days. Newer, younger members will come and some will "stick", but most will be drawn away by life, families, work, or whatever.  You must recruit ten people to get just a couple to "stick".  My "Wenham Museum" tale from another earlier posting is a cautionary flag.  It is always out there waiting for those who think it won't happen here. 

Finally, as real railroading changes and morphs into whatever the future holds, will there be ANY attraction at all to kids?  Right now it's Thomas and the Polar Express which draws them. . . neither of which is real.  What in the real world of railroading, now and future, will draw them?  And will they relate it to historic trains, especially those of such rare examples as the Maine Two Footers?

Richard

Mike Fox

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2013, 08:06:25 PM »
I do believe we have the best volunteers of any organization. Young, old, working or retired. The group of volunteers we have has done what ever needed to be done, no matter how it took to get it done.

The members of the BOD itself says a lot about the museum. A very nice mix in age, they bring ideas and experience to the organization.
Mike
Doing way too much to list...

Stewart "Start" Rhine

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2013, 07:39:25 AM »
True, we have come a long way since the days when everything was done with hand tools and there are some very talented people in our group using their skills on projects.  I'm impressed by things like using CAD to design locomotive parts, etc. but there's still a lot of old fashioned hand work.  There are still lots of jobs one can start with i.e. mowing grass, cutting weeds, shoveling stone, carrying ties, and painting.  People with mechanic minds can learn to use Ichabod then step up to Big Joe, the tractor or Model A truck.  If you look at the work done last weekend, much of it was hands-on low tech stuff and everyone worked where they wanted.

I think one of the best things about the museum is that you can learn anything from high tech stuff to 80 year old gasoline engines, 100 year old steam technology or 5,000 year old ideas of moving rocks and dirt. Seems like a pretty good range of choices.   

Dave Crow

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2013, 09:08:27 AM »
As well as trade cookie recipes amongst the cooks!!!!

Steve Smith

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2013, 09:52:53 PM »
I guess I have a more optimistic view than Richard's regarding future prospects for drawing in new members from the railroad fans in the younger set. As far as the available pool is concerned, I suspect it's ALWAYS been a case of "slim pickins."

I base that on what I observed in Bergenfield NJ during the first part of the 1940s, and then studying engineering in Troy NY 1946 -1950.

Through Bergenfield passed the West Shore River Division of the New York Central, with four tracks to accommodate the twice-daily surge of trains bringing commuters to and from New York City.

Steam ruled: nary a diesel until after I'd left for college. There was a nice selection of steam power from the Central—Pacifics, Mohawks, and the occasional Mikado, and later also Hudsons and B&A Berkshires displaced by diesels from other parts of the system. The New York, Ontario and Western, which had trackage rights, contributed light USRA Mountain-type engines and a variety of old ten wheelers, some of them camelbacks.

Besides heavy wartime freight traffic there were 30 passenger trains/day in each direction, 20 each way making a station stop in Bergenfield. In summer, the NYO&W ran passenger extras filled with New Yorkers bound for various towns in the "Borscht Belt" of the Catskills.

Another attraction was the coach yard in Dumont NJ, 1.5 miles to the north. Every weekday evening or Saturday afternoon, five of the commuter trains pulled into the yard and the engine turned on the wye before recoupling, ready for the run to the Weehawken ferry terminal each morning except Sunday.

So……..ALL KINDS of goodies you'd think would draw steam fans like flies. And according to my 1946 B.H.S. yearbook, the student population that year was 487.

Yet from that pool of "possibles," there were only THREE steam fans that hung out at the Bergenfield station. I know, because I was one of them and I spent an awful lot of time there. Didn't miss much. (Cep'n study time.)

At Rensselaer Poly the student population swelled from the normal 2,500 to 4,000 because of the GI Bill. Troy was a terrific town for steam action, served as it was by four railroads. With the exception of a few Alco road switchers used by the D & H, everything in and out of Troy was steam-hauled. But the students that started the model railroad layout in 1946 numbered only a dozen, and a subset of SIX of us chased steam on weekends when we could steal a bit of time from studies.

It's good to be reminded of the need to draw in new blood, but I believe if the Museum continues the many good things it's been doing, that will happen.

Dinga-linga-ling!    Hang on…..phone's ringing in the other room. Back in a sec.

(Pause)

I'm back. That was John McNamara. He claims there were LOADS of railfans at Bergenfield High back then, just holding off, waiting till the West Shore went diesel. ;)





Richard "Steam" Symmes

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2013, 10:06:49 PM »
Today's youth have far more distractions than youth of bygone days. 

Plus, remember, back then in the "glory days", trains were an everyday thing for most people. The average person didn't pay them much attention. Now they nearly are invisible.  Around here there is nothing but the same tired old MBTA commuter trains. No one even looks up when one passes.

So it seems to me that we need to try even harder than before to attract the minimum number of younger members to grow the organization.

When I was a teenager I had a model railroad, but I wasn't big into railfanning until after high school. My first big event was going to Pennsylvania in 1960 to ride one of the early Reading RR "Iron Horse Rambles" with big T-1 type 4-8-4 #2124.  That did it for me!  I was hooked.  How many kids today can relate to that?

I'm not trying to turn this discussion into a p---ing contest (save that for the new restrooms), but trying to point out that you can't "coast" and hope things will work out in the long run. You have to be on top of this issue every single day. It's happening in every hobby and traditional organization. The unwary will find themselves playing solo fiddle in an empty hall.

Richard

Stewart "Start" Rhine

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #22 on: May 03, 2013, 07:11:16 AM »
I think the key to bringing new faces to the WW&F is the quality of the "product".  Our mission is to present an early 1900's narrow gauge steam railroad with all it's surroundings.  The Maine two footers were unique in a number of ways and we need to present the railroad in a historic setting.  Everyone from casual visitors to serious railfans will enjoy the magic of Sheepscot with classic buildings, original R-O-W, nice rolling stock and beautiful motive power.  Interaction with crews is very important.  A kind engineman on the EBT got me interested in steam by offering a cab ride in 1960. Our crews often invite children to ride in the locomotive for part of the trip.  The parent often goes as well and they all hop out with a smile.

If 5% of the population are interested in trains ... many like modeling while some chase and photograph.  A few will work at a museum.  The percentage of fans that like narrow gauge is less than that with many interested in 3 foot such as the former D&RG(W) lines.  Maine Two Foot comes after all that so there is less of a railfan pool for the WW&F. What we can do to get the younger folks to  Sheepscot is offer an exciting experience, we tell them about it with modern advertising and social media exposure.  Young people are on facebook and twitter.  The museum is on facebook and we should consider getting a Twitter account.  Once they see the photos on the museum's facebook page they will want to visit.  Seeing the operation first hand, some will join and contirbute.  

The railroad is the draw but another angle is to promote the other historic things... such as the saw mill (when we set it up).  There will be a few people who will show up because they like old equipment.

Stewart  
« Last Edit: May 13, 2013, 05:58:34 PM by Stewart Rhine »

Steve Smith

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #23 on: May 03, 2013, 09:06:36 AM »
Another savvy thing is we're on YouTube. I just had another look at Eric Schade's excellent video showing the track work during the Spring Work Weekend a year ago.

Bill Sample

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #24 on: May 13, 2013, 04:32:22 PM »
This thread came to mind when Sue & I were at the Steaming Tender Restaurant in Palmer MA on Saturday 11 May.  There were a good 10 or so enthusiastic young railfan photographers there - guys mostly in their teens or early 20s, mostly specializing in photography of contemporary rail activity.  It was good to see this enthusiasm in a younger crowd. 
For those of you that aren't familiar with it, the Steaming Tender is located in the former Palmer Union Station which served the Boston & Albany and Central Vermont railroads, so it is a good place to tie on the feed bag while enjoying some contemporary "broad gauge" activity on today's CSX (ex B&A) and New England Central (former CV).

Matthew Gustafson

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Re: 2013 Spring Work Weekend
« Reply #25 on: May 16, 2013, 05:31:35 PM »

We have in the next town to me an institution called the Wenham Museum (Wenham, Mass.)  It has an entire basement filled with various model railroads which kids can run by pushing a button. All scales are represented, from G to Z. All of this was put together in the 1970s by a group of dedicated men who were into model railroading.  Most of them volunteered their time. Only a couple were part time paid personnel. There were about a dozen in all. Guess how many are active today?  3 or 4, and they are all in their 80's with various health issues. All the rest have either died or are in nursing homes.  No younger people have been found to replace them. First, because the entire railroading hobby is aging, and second, because those younger men with an interest, don't have the time to devote to the museum.

Richard

This is the main problem for me. Im 21 years old and from the age of 14 Ive been interest at volunteering at the Illinois Railway Museum and I always itching to go down there and help them out but there are certain problems that are keeping me from doing it (the main reason is money) I was told from a IRM member of the Steam Crew while I was giving a tour of their steam shop building and I ask them whats the best way to volunteer at this museum (While being able to support myself also) and he told me that the best way to do that is to for one "find a good job that can support yourself and or your family and whenever you have free time come on down here an work with us for fun and enjoy keeping our history live on to the future" Well I have a job but its pay is still not good enough for me to get my own place yet, so until I do so, Im stuck where I am but once I move out of my home, I will be making trips there a lot to help out because then I won't have the problem of driving for a hour and a half there and back and don't have to worry about parents thinking "Its to far away for you to drive"

The Point is I hope that people around my age (the 3rd Generation) will one day find the time to replace the (2nd Generation) of volunteers at every Railroad Museum across America who are right now working hard to get people around my age group interested and to hopefully soon have them take their place so they can have a enjoy retirement and watch their replacements take over the work they started.
Steam Department Volunteer at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Steve Smith

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #26 on: May 16, 2013, 11:43:54 PM »
Keep the faith, Matthew. Your time will come!

Your mention of the Illinois Railway museum led me to check out its website. Among the various updates on progress with various steam restoration projects was this very encouraging line:

Quote
The whole team was young guys all in their lower 20's or teens, which makes a big change from the reliance on us old codgers!

Philip Marshall

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #27 on: May 17, 2013, 01:29:26 AM »
At 37 I'm still probably one of the younger people posting here. As a somewhat precocious teenager in the early 1990s I was actually an early member of the "Sheepscot Valley Railroaders" (prior to the group's rechristening as the WW&F Ry Museum), and can claim to have played a very minor role in the erection of the first stall of the enginehouse in the summer of 1990. (Yes, I was there, if only for a single weekend!) I count having met and chatted with Harry Percival one of the most inspiring experiences of my early career as a fan of the Two-Footers, almost (but not quite) on par with having once ridden in the cab of B&SR #8 around the loop at Edaville. But then college and graduate school and adult life in general intervened, and I sort of dropped out and let my membership lapse. I'm still interested, but I just don't have a lot of time or money to contribute these days, and I expect my situation is somewhat typical of those in the 20-40 age range.

That's *my* story, for what it's worth.

(I would love to have been able to purchase one of the shares of W&Q stock Harry was peddling circa 1990 for $100 each, and kick myself now for having missed the chance.)

James Patten

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #28 on: May 17, 2013, 07:15:43 AM »
Phillip, W&Q stock is still available for $100/share.  The Wiscasset & Quebec RR Company (yes the original company) is still extant and is happy to sell shares when they can.  Don't expect any dividends however. 

Philip Marshall

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Re: Inviting Younger People to get Involved
« Reply #29 on: May 17, 2013, 11:54:27 AM »
That's good to hear! Thank you. Who should I contact to purchase a share?