Leslie D. Vilda - Historical Interpreter

P.O.Box 99

Wilber, Nebraska  68465

(402) 821-3058

eduexped@windstream.net

 

Professional Experience

        Historical interpreter since 1980

        Presentations

Since 1980, I have given over 750 history oriented presentations and/or demonstrations in 24 states for elementary schools, high schools, colleges, historical societies, youth groups, youth camps, civic organizations, county fairs, state fairs, church groups, community festivals, National historic events, theme parks, museums, libraries, and malls.  (Over 460 of these were school assembly programs, offered through booking agencies, given in 16 states during the 1999/2000, 2000/2001 2005/2006, and 2009/2010 school years.)

        Member of The Nebraska Humanities Councils’ Speaker’s Bureau

      Program topic:  A Modern Day Encounter With The Santa Fe Trail - (1988 – Present)

        Movie Experience  

Ride With The Devil- (1999) Portrayed a Union soldier and a Confederate guerrilla (horseback and on foot), and a dead guy during the U.S. Civil War.

The Ride - (1997) Portrayed a modern (1990's) day cowboy.

America's Throwaway Children - (1997) Portrayed a homeless person in this documentary on Boys Town.

Dances With Wolves - (1989) Portrayed a buffalo hunter attached to Ft. Hays in 1864.  

            Interview - (2011)  Interview concerning Les Vilda's 2nd Presidential campaign.  Conducted by KHAS-TV (NBC affiliate - Hastings, NE).  Aired during 10:00 PM News on January 15, 2011.

            A Day In The Heartland - (2008)  Interview/commentary about Les Vilda's Presidential campaign.  The original story conducted and aired by KHAS-TV (NBC affiliate - Hastings, NE).  Various versions of the story created by NBC affiliates across the United States  Versions also created by The Daily Buzz, BBC, and MSNBC.

The Metro Show (2005)  Interview about Nebraska History; the role of the Mountain Men (fur trappers) and early 1800’s wagon trains.

Fit-Kids - (1998) Promoted Centennial Village at the Utah State Fair during this live children's show in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Utah State Fair - (1998) Demonstrated rope making for a Utah State Fair television commercial.

        Expeditions

Oregon Trail (Sept. 24 - Oct. 22, 1992) 170 miles along the Nebraska City Cut-Off using wagon and donkey-mule team

March to the Wind (June 6 - June 18, 1988) 300 miles on horseback retracing an 1825 Mountain man expedition

Santa Fe Trail (April 21 - September 10, 1987) 1100 miles:  100 miles walking with pack donkey, 1000 miles with horse and wagon.

Santa Fe Trail (June 21 - September 19, 1984) 980 miles walking with pack donkey

Mississippi River (June-August, 1982) Canoed first 500 miles of the river.

Missouri River (June-November, 1980) 2500 miles:  Canoed entire length of river

        Living History Programs  -  Created, developed, and perform/conduct the following programs for audiences age 6 through, and including, senior citizen

  The Missouri River By Canoe

A Modern Day Encounter With The Santa Fe Trail

Life On The Trail

Uses of Plants On The Prairie

Rope Making

Dr. Rabi’s Medicine Show

        Related Skills

Ride horseback

Pack a horse

Single horse harnessing and driving

Team horse harnessing and driving

Proper set-up of the following historical shelters:  Tipi, Marquee, Wall tent, Wedge tent, Pyramid tent, Diamond fly

Build shelters of natural materials

Use of blackpowder weapons (rifle, shotgun, pistol)

Tomahawk and knife throwing

Build fire with flint and steel (and other primitive techniques)

Cook and bake meals over an open fire

Sew my own leather shirts, pants, moccasins, and other leather accoutrements

Play musical instruments:  Bones, piano accordion, harmonica

        Exhibits and Programs

Guest Speaker (2013)  Presented a paper entitled "Surviving The Plains:  A Prairie Travelers Overview".  Discussing the knowledge and skills needed by an individual to cross the prairies by wagon in the 1800's.  Santa Fe Trail Association Symposium, Ulysses, KS.

Rope Making Exhibit (2010)  Demonstrations and hands-on experiences for the public in the art of making rope; along with explanations of the history of rope making in the United States. Nevada State Fair, Reno, NV

Rope Making Exhibit (2010)  Demonstrations and hands-on experiences for the public in the art of making rope; along with explanations of the history of rope making in the United States. Rail Road Days, Portola, CA

School Event Instructor/Guest Speaker (2010)  Presented programs to elementary students, teachers, and parents about the history of the Santa Fe Trail along with stories of my experiences traveling the trail in the 1980's / Member of a four person panel discussing the history of the Santa Fe Trail.  Prairie Rose Chuckwagon, Benton, KS

Rope Making Exhibit (2009)  Demonstrations and hands-on experiences for the public in the art of making rope; along with explanations of the history of rope making in the United States. Rail Road Days, Portola, CA

Rope Making Exhibit (2009)  Demonstrations and hands-on experiences for the public in the art of making rope; along with explanations of the history of rope making in the United States. Plumas-Sierra County Fair, Quincey, CA

School Event Instructor (2009) Topic:  The history of black powder and the evolution of the muzzleloading rifle - with a demonstration of flint and steel fire starting;  Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Outdoor Expo, Kearney, Nebraska

School Event Instructor (2008) Topic:  The history of black powder and the evolution of the muzzleloading rifle - with a demonstration of flint and steel fire starting;  Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Outdoor Expo, Kearney, Nebraska

Graduate Education Class Instructor (2007) Guest lecturer: EDU 635 (Nebraska Heritage); Topics included:  Uses of plants on the prairie (herbarium and live specimens brought to the classroom), 1800’s rope and cordage making techniques, 'burning lens' and flint and steel fire starting, early 1800’s surveying techniques (chain and link), and assisted with 1800‘s music; Doane College, Lincoln, Nebraska

Co-coordinator of National Rope Makers Convention and Fiber Arts Festival (September 2006); Helped develop, organize, promote, and run the event (Helped to: choose city and site for the event; develop signs, maps and advertising flyers; contact/invite fiber arts and rope makers groups; create daily schedule of events; find concessions group and banquet caterer); Crete Heritage Society Complex, Crete, Nebraska

Graduate Education Class Instructor (2006) Guest lecturer: EDU 635 (Nebraska Heritage); Topics included:  Uses of plants on the prairie (herbarium and live specimens brought to the classroom), 1800’s rope and cordage making techniques, 'burning lens' and flint and steel fire starting, early 1800’s surveying techniques (chain and link), and assisted with 1800‘s music; Doane College, Lincoln, Nebraska

Graduate Education Class Instructor (2005) Guest lecturer: EDU 635 (Nebraska Heritage); Topics included:  Uses of plants on the prairie (herbarium and live specimens brought to the classroom), 1800’s rope and cordage making techniques, and assisted with 1800‘s music; Doane College, Lincoln, Nebraska

Graduate Education Class Instructor (2005) Guest lecturer:  EDU 699 (Lewis and Clark and the Missouri River Experience); Topics included:  Uses of plants on the prairie (prairie walk), Plant collection and preservation techniques, Missouri River by canoe (slide presentation), Primitive fire starting, 1800’s rope and cordage making techniques, Map and compass use, and Early 1800’s clothing styles (non-military); Doane College, Crete, Nebraska

Graduate Education Class Instructor (2005) Guest lecturer:  EDU 699 (Lewis and Clark and the Missouri River Experience); Topics included:  Uses of plants on the prairie (prairie walk), Plant collection and preservation techniques, Missouri River by canoe (slide presentation), Primitive fire starting, 1800’s rope and cordage making techniques, Map and compass use, and Early 1800’s clothing styles (non-military); Doane College, Grand Island, Nebraska

Graduate Education Class Instructor (2004) Guest lecturer:  EDU 699 (Lewis and Clark and the Missouri River Experience); Topics included:  Uses of plants on the prairie (prairie walk), Plant collection and preservation techniques, Missouri River by canoe (slide presentation), Primitive fire starting, 1800’s rope and cordage making techniques, Map and compass use, and Early 1800’s clothing styles (non-military); Doane College, Crete, Nebraska

Graduate Education Class Instructor (2004) Guest lecturer: EDU 635 (Nebraska Heritage); Topics included:  Uses of plants on the prairie (herbarium specimens brought to the classroom), 1800’s rope and cordage making techniques, and assisted with 1800‘s music; Doane College, Lincoln, Nebraska

Graduate Education Class Instructor (2003) Guest lecturer:  EDU 699 (Lewis and Clark and the Missouri River Experience); Topics included:  Uses of plants on the prairie (prairie walk), Missouri River by canoe, Primitive fire starting, 1800’s rope and cordage making techniques, and Early 1800’s clothing styles (non-military); Doane College, Crete, Nebraska

Graduate Education Class Instructor (2003) Guest lecturer: EDU 635 (Nebraska Heritage); Topics included:  Uses of plants on the prairie (herbarium specimens brought to the classroom), 1800’s rope and cordage making techniques, and assisted with 1800‘s music; Doane College, Lincoln, Nebraska

Great Plains Chautauqua, Crete (2001) (Co-sponsored by the Nebraska Humanities Council) Organized and directed the Living History Camp; participated in historical music program (played bones and harmonica), Tuxedo Park, Crete, Nebraska

Centennial Village's Ropemaker at Utah State Fair, Salt Lake City, Utah (1999, 1998, 1997)

Official ropemaker at Knott's Camp Snoopy in Mall of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota (1996)

Official ropemaker at Silver Dollar City, Branson, Missouri (1995)

Booshway (1992)  (Booshway is an early 1800's fur trapper's slang for Bourgeois) Developed, organized, coordinated, and conducted the Kansas-Nebraska Rendezvous (A 3-day historical event catering to Fur Trade Era enthusiasts)

Fur Trade Exhibit (1990) Developed and conducted Fur Traders Center for Pioneer Day, Crete Elementary School, Crete, Nebraska

Trail Lore Exhibit (1988) Developed and helped prepare exhibit of early Western trail life; explained the exhibit to visitors; developed and conducted hands-on projects for visitors, Omaha Children's Museum, Omaha, Nebraska

Mountain Man Program (1987) Developed and supervised Mountain Man program for summer Boy Scout camp, Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch, Walsenburg, Colorado

Living History Personage (1985) Provided living history interpretation and conducted tours of Fort Atkinson, Ft. Calhoun, Nebraska

Santa Fe Trail Interpretation (1984) Conducted tours and interpreted Santa Fe Trail history, Cave Spring Interpretive Center, Raytown, Missouri

Living History Personage (1983-1984) Provided living history interpretation and conducted tours of Fort Osage, Sibley, Missouri

Ÿ          Living History events

              I have attended and participated in a minimum of 10 events (indoor and outdoor) each year since 1988

        Professional model for Nationally and Internationally known Western Artists  (1999, 1997, 1995, 1994, 1993)

Consulting

Consultant for Nationally and Internationally known Western Artists (1999, 1997, 1995, 1994, 1993)

Consultant for National Park Service during the Santa Fe National Historic Trail Survey (1988)

Consultant for the publication Following the Santa Fe Trail:  A Guide for Modern Travelers, by Dr. Marc Simmons (1985)

 

Publications  

            Monthly Article:  "You Gonna Eat That?" (about wild plants and their uses) for Powder Horn News (monthly periodical for pre-1850 American history enthusiasts) (February 2010 - 2012)

            Olde Tymer's Guide To Building A Rope Making Machine With Instructions On How To Use It (2010)

            Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Postcard (2004)

Rabi’s Mountain Man Guide To: Making Rope (1999)

            Rabi's Mountain Man Guide To:  Making Fire With Flint and Steel (1996)

Rabi's Joke Book (1996)

Designed, researched, edited, published, and marketed the Santa Fe Trail Calendar (1993, 1992, 1991, 1990)

Article: "A Modern Encounter With The Trail" for Wagon Tracks (official publication for the Santa Fe Trail Association) (1989)

 

Recordings

John Hatcher Meets The Devil  (2000)

That Reminds Me Of A Song  (2000)

 

Awards

Inducted into The American Rope Makers Guild with the title of "Master Rope Maker" (2005)

Recipient of the "Nebraska's Friend Award" (1993)

Awarded the title "Ambassador of the Santa Fe Trail" by the Santa Fe Trail Association (1987)

Professional Meetings

United Nebraska Muzzleloaders Association’s Convention (2017, 2016, 2011 - Speaker, 2009, 2008, 2007 – Speaker, 2005 – Speaker, 2004, 2003, 2002, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995 - Speaker, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987)

National Rope Makers Convention (2013, 2012, 2009, 2006, 2005, 2004)

Santa Fe Trail Association's Symposia Speaker (2013, 1997)

Santa Fe Trail Association's Symposia (2013, 1999, 1997, 1995, 1993, 1991, 1989, 1987, 1986)

Santa Fe Trail Association’s Rendezvous (2000)