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May 8, 2014

Oklahoma history second to none in significance

DUNCAN — Oklahoma’s contributions to the United States point to a rich history and heritage, Oklahoma Heritage Association President Shannon Rich said.

Rich was the guest speaker Wednesday for the Duncan Rotary Club. Rich, who has been president of OHA since 2004, discussed the objectives of the association, while highlighting Oklahoma’s significance in history.

“We meet with students from across the state and highlight the state’s greatest resource, its people,” Rich said.

Rich said the Oklahoma Heritage Association focuses on people, not the events. From the land run to the Trail of Tears, she said the people are what make those events significant because those people put forth effort to be successful.

Even when Native Americans were forced to head to eastern Oklahoma, along the Trail of Tears, they settled and became successful.

“Our history is the most amazing of any state, but I may be biased,” Rich said. “We’re a diverse people. A visitor quickly realizes the contributions of our state. We want to preserve our history.”

For Rich, instilling pride in Oklahoma starts with teaching students about Oklahoma’s history. She said other states, such as Texas, teach more state history and, as a result, students have more pride in their state.

She said the Oklahoma Heritage Foundation focuses on education because of the pride that can develop from learning about a state’s history.

Rich said it’s important for students to learn about Oklahomans, from Wiley Post to T. Boone Pickens, who have made lasting impressions on the United States. She said those outstanding Oklahomans show students what can be accomplished when they put their minds to it.

“These Oklahomans are just like you,” Rich said. “It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we have vision.”

In addition to teaching Oklahoma students about the state’s heritage from free field trips and other interactions, the foundation supports education by providing scholarships to students across the state.

Since the scholarship’s inception, about $108,000 in scholarships have been given to students in Stephens County. That number grows to about $300,000 for students in Stephens and surrounding counties.

“We want to create generations of people who will be champions,” Rich said.

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