‘Good position to move forward’
A history buff with a variety of experience with history centers has taken on the role of leading the Steele County Historical Society.
James Lundgren, a Minnesota native with experience in both this state, and Ohio, where he worked for the National Museum of the Great Lakes, is excited to get started as executive director of SCHS.
Lundgren is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and holds a master’s degree in non-profit administration from Regis College. According to Lundgren, he was just wrapping up a consulting project with Freeborn County before switching his focus to his new position as executive director of the Steele County Historical Society.
“There are lots of similarities between non-profits,” Lundgren says. “It’s a common fabric but at the same time each one is unique.”
When asked what excites Lundgren about his new position, he said, “I’m very enthusiastic about the new facility we have here. There’s a lot of meeting space and there’s a lot of program space, so that should be very beneficial.”
He relishes the chance to introduce area residents and visitors to the rich local history. “Our history is important because people of each county have their own unique history and I think that learning about our immediate history is very crucial in understanding where we live and how history has shaped it.”
Although he is educated with a background in history, Lundgren said his skills are also on the administrative side.”
Right now his priorities are to try and identify the areas he feels the organization can reach out in, including developing a stronger donor base and attracting more visitors. “County historical societies are a good place for people to come learn more about what surrounds them,” Lundgren said.
The new director sees many strengths in Steele County’s Historical Society. “It’s a very high quality historical organization, and it’s in a good position to move forward.” He also is appreciative of all the help the society receives. “We have a lot of great volunteers and a very good board of directors too,” he added.
Having graduated with a dual degree in both History and Native American studies, Lundgren’s acumen is particularly tailored to middle and late 19th century history. As a student of the past, he understands that “it’s important to know our own history.”
Lundgren said, “It’s also important to know where people have come from, and to know about the history of our county and how it came to be.” By comprehending history through an accurate lens, he believes that “one can understand the growth and opportunities of our past, and see them reflected now or in the possible future.”
As a non-profit organization, SCHS depends on community involvement. “Without volunteers this organization would not be where it is today, and the foundations built by our volunteers and donors earlier on is what moves it forward,” Lundgren said. Despite such a robust foundation, Lundgren knows that volunteers, visitors, and community donations will be vital for the future.
“We can get them involved in lots of different capacities,” Lundgren says of prospective volunteers. “There’s the planning side but there’s also more hands-on roles.”
Lundgren feels that having a strong donor base is paramount to the success of SCHS. “I want to continue to build upon what they have already done,” he said. “I think we can carry on the level of quality and move forward while continuing to provide such excellent programing.”
“I think it’s important to have a strong operation so that members of the community continue to support to us,” Lundgren said.
The current exhibits, which rotate every few years, are titled “Over Here, Over There: The Great War” and “Autos and Roads.” The Great War program features historical exhibits on Steele County’s involvement in World War I, while the Autos and Roads programs feature an exhibit of historical roadsters, including a Ford Model T truck, and details about the areas transportation history.