(Recommended for grades 4 and up – adaptable for all age groups)

(Ask about Activity options)

The day begins with ALL of the participating classes assembled to experience the slide presentation:  THE MISSOURI RIVER BY CANOE (see program description below).  This slide presentation is about 45 minutes in length with time at the end for audience questions.

            After the slides, Les will visit each classroom with ‘hands-on’ activities  for the students.  Les will spend nearly 2 hours with each class (or group) of up to 30 students each.  Students will be divided into small groups to work on the activities.

Activities reflect knowledge and skills that members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition needed in order to carry out their mission.  All activities can be done indoors or outdoors.  Weather (and temperature) permitting, outdoors is preferred in order to give the students the experience of working outdoors as Lewis and Clark’s men had.

Activities include:  Map and Compass, Measuring distance (using a surveyors chain (that the students will make) and ‘Dead Reckoning’), and Making rope. (All materials provided by Educational Expeditions) And, depending upon individual school policy, a demonstration of Fire Starting Techniques that were used by Lewis and Clark’s men (flint and steel kit and ‘burning glass’)(Outdoor demonstration ONLY!)



(Recommended for grades 4 and up – adaptable for all age groups)

The day begins with ALL of the participating classes assembled to experience the slide presentation:  A MODERN DAY ENCOUNTER WITH THE SANTA FE TRAIL (see program description below).  This presentation is about 45 minutes in length with time at the end for audience questions.

            After the slides, each class, or group of about 20 students each, will assemble (one group at a time) at the mock trail camp, LIFE ON THE TRAIL (see program description below), to learn more about 19th century trail life.  Life On The Trail can be presented indoors or outdoors.  Outdoors is preferred – weather (and temperature) permitting and/or space available by the hosting organization.



PROGRAM INFORMATION (for programs listed below)

PROGRAM COST (for programs listed below)  (Rope Making priced seperately)

++PLUS - Mileage: 50 cents per mile round trip from Wilber, Nebraska (Organizations block booking programs split the mileage fee)


LIFE ON THE TRAIL   (Photos and more.....)

In a mock trail camp, you can see and hear about some of the clothing, equipment, tools and food used along the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California Trails in the early 1800's. Les will take you through a "Typical" day on the trail and explain some of the daily chores that were expected of the men, women and children while on their journey.


Les Vilda's personal experiences on the Santa Fe Trail in 1984 and 1987 combine with historical facts in a narrative slide presentation. Les compares the modes of transportation, clothing and food he used as an 1800's re-enactor with the items used by actual trail travelers of the 19th century. Many historical sites found along the trail are examined as well as many of the "Signs", both old and new, that mark the trail.


From Three Forks, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri, this slide presentation will take you on a 2500 mile journey down the Missouri River. Learn the history of the river, from the days of Lewis and Clark, fur trappers, and explorers, to the days of river channelization and hydro-electric power. Listen to the adventures of a modern day canoer as you enjoy the beautiful sights of this magnificent river.

USES OF PLANTS ON THE PRAIRIE   (Photos and more.....)

Explore the world of plants as seen through the eyes of the Plains Indians and the early trail travelers crossing the prairie. Find out which plants were used for food, tools, games, toys and more. Dried plant specimens are used in the presentation to show what the plants look like and to point out their useable parts.

DR. RABI'S MEDICINE SHOW    (Photos and more.....)   (Medicine Show Page)

Bring a bit of history and fun to your next event.  This show is a comedy spoof on the old original Medicine Shows of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Professor Kaun Ewebadd, the spokesperson for the Dr. Rabi’s Medicine and Invention Company, will serve as your host.  The Professor encourages audience participation as he shares his magic, music, stories, jokes, and zany inventions.  His “Special Medicines” are sure to tickle your funny bone.

The Professor puts on a family show, so don’t be afraid to invite the kids.

CAUTION – This show has been known to “dazzle” and “amaze” its audiences!


Laughter – It’s just what the doctor ordered!


ROPEMAKING  (Photos and more.....)      **OFFERED 3 WAYS**

1) As a Demonstration:  The Rope Making Demonstration is about 15 minutes long.  I string p sisal twine and a colored yarn (to make it easier to visualize the rope making process by being able to keep your eye on the only one colored strand as the rope is being made) in the rope macine and make a rope.  There is no audience participation involved with this program.  I verbally describe the rope making process as I'm demonstrating.  I provide all the materials.  I will provide one (1) demonstration per hour, for up to 8 hours per day, and answer questions until the next scheduled demonstration.
Program Cost (Rope Making Demonstration)
$250.00 per day
PLUS $0.50/mile round trip from Wilber, Nebraska (this is a one time travel fee)
2) Lecture - Demonstration:   The Rope Making Lecture/Demonstration is close to an hour long as I talk about the evolution of rope making and the machines used to make rope.  Each major evolutionary step is highlighted with a demonstration of that technique:  Making rope by hand using native prairie grasses as the Native Americans ahd done (requires one person) - Making rope with a "primitive" (no gears) machine as many of the early Homesteaders of the prairies had used (requires 3 people) - Making rope with a geared machine and modern techniques (requires one person).  I use audience members (volunteers) to help with the demonstrations.  I provide all the materials.  I am willing to perform up to 3 Lecture/Demonstrations per day.
Program Cost  (Lecture/Demo)
First Program...................................................................................................$250.00
Each additional program (Same program at the same place on the same day).....$125.00
PLUS $0.50/mile round trip from Wilber, Nebraska (this is a one time travel fee)
3)  As a Sponsored Part of the Festival/Event

Make your own Jumprope:  I set up the rope making machine, I string up the sisal twine and colored yarn (the customer gets to choose one from the at least 6 different available colors), and the customer (kids...of all ages (yes, tht includes adults)) cranks the handle on the rope machine resulting in making their own jumprope.  Each finished jumprope is about 8 feet long - long enough for an adult to use.  The customer then gets to take the jumprope (1 rope per person) home with them - free of charge to the customer, courtesy of the sponsoring entity.  (A person would be allowed to make more than one rope considering they revolve to the end of the waiting line for each rope.)  I provide the rope making machine, all the rope making materials, oodles of rope related stories (this usually helps entertain the customers waiting in line), and answers to most all rope making questions from the customers.  The rope machine will be open for up to 8 hours per day (negotiable).

Program Cost  (Make Your Own Jumprope)
$450.00 per day
PLUS $0.50/mile round trip from Wilber, Nebraska (this is a one time travel fee)

CLICK HERE to learn more about Master Rope Maker, Les Vilda

Contact Les for booking information.

Les Vilda, PO Box 99, Wilber, NE 68465 (402) 821-3058
Copyright © 2003-2017. Have Donkey Will Travel. All Rights Reserved.
Page last revised: 2/19/17