Trinidad State News

Trinidad State launches new Heritage School

Valley Campus / February 27, 2015


Southern Colorado features a rich heritage, tempered with pioneer spirit and ingenuity. With the goal of promoting life-long learning, Trinidad State Junior College has formed the Southern Rockies Heritage School. The school will teach traditional skills, crafts, and other art forms.

Many of the classes will be held at Trinidad State’s Trinidad Campus, but some classes are planned for outlying locations where facilities permit, as well as Trinidad State’s Valley Campus in Alamosa. Classes already scheduled for this summer include scrimshaw, cowboy hat making, leather holster making, powder horns, spur making, belt buckles, blacksmithing, Northern Pueblo basket making, paper making and many more.

The director of the new school is Kim McKee, who is also the director of Francisco Fort Museum in La Veta. She has wanted to open a heritage-based school for more than a decade. “Realizing there are no ‘folk schools’ in the West, and having collected ideas and data from existing ‘folk schools’ back east,” said McKee, “I began envisioning and submitting the project idea in 2007 to various organizations in Southern Colorado. Southern Rockies Heritage School is a confluence of great timing, great people and great opportunity to be able to create a community of learning, sharing and ‘handing down’ with Trinidad State Junior College!”

McKee and her husband are professional musicians who have studied traditional cultures to gain an understanding of our ancestors. She performs on the harp, accordion, hammer and mountain dulcimer, guitar and Irish bodhran. She is a song writer and loves to sing ballads related to her Irish/Scottish heritage. She and her husband have released 14 CDs over the last 25 years.

She believes this transition into a folk, or heritage school, is an obvious choice for her. “Some skills which are no longer needed for survival have become ‘art,’ but they are still alive and vibrant.” She wants the new school to share knowledge and skills and pass them from one generation to the next, so they won’t be lost.

If you’ve ever wondered how cheese is made, marveled at the skill of a blacksmith or felt the creative urge to work with leather, spin wool or make soap, the school will have something for you. Farm classes will include medicinal herbs, backyard chickens, beekeeping and more.

“We will try to include things within the community that have to do with our history,” said McKee. Skills will include adobe making, rope making and making dye out of cactus bugs. “We want people who have skills and talents they they’re practicing in their basement or their garage or their backyard to share those skills with each other.”

A new website has launched at southernrockiesheritageschool.org.