On November 19, I was pleased to present several of our local StEPs participants with Bronze and Silver certificates at a special celebration in Nashville. AASLH received a grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee in the fall of 2011 to create a StEPs users group of four historic sites in Middle Tennessee to help move the organizations through the StEPS program. A second grant last year from the same organization allowed us to continue the program with six sites in the Nashville area.

StEPs Middle TN Group

StEPs Middle TN Group

We held our celebration meeting at the Nashville Zoo to reward their good work and plan next steps as funding is ending for the users group. Cookeville History Museum received the Silver Certificate in the Audience section as well as the Bronze Certificate for Stewardship of Collections. Oaklands Historic House Museum and Sam Davis Home and Museum each received the Bronze Certificate for Stewardship of Collections. The Croft House at the Nashville Zoo, Traveller’s Rest Plantation, and Mansker’s Station are still working toward their certificates, but have a plan in place to earn them soon.

Although the formal group is ending, the sites felt that working together was valuable enough that they are going to continue on their own. They have planned for quarterly lunches throughout 2014 to discuss the Interpretation section of the book. They also are planning a get-together at the 2014 Tennessee Association of Museums meeting.

As Jack said on the TV show Lost, “Either we live together, or die alone.” These museums are choosing to live together and continue improving best practices at their institutions. Who can you partner with to keep your StEPs work on track?

Bethany L. Hawkins is the Program Manager for AASLH. She served as staff coordinator for the StEPs Middle Tennessee project.