National Cowgirl Museum Learning Program brings lesser-known U.S. history to life


CowgirlsThe Fort Worth, Texas-based National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is bringing history to life for students across the nation, and even globally, through an innovative distance learning and on-site teaching program for low income or under-performing schools.

“Teachers continually search for programs that engage their students in ways they have not experienced,” said Museum Director of Education and Exhibits, Diana Vela, PhD. “While most are exposed to the standard lessons surrounding American history, very few have been exposed to the stories and accomplishments of women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the American West, and in many ways, our nation.”

The “Discover the Wild West Scholarship,” funded by the Stephanie and Charles Roven Foundation of Los Olivos, California, specifically targets low-income and/or under-performing schools. The program provides, at no cost, 45-minute distance learning programs, along with supplementary instructional materials, to eligible schools nationwide with reciprocal equipment that do not have program funding. Furthermore, the program also provides complimentary admission for schools that otherwise would not be able to experience the Museum.

“The program has been available for several months and has already reached more than 1,300 students in Maine, New York and Pennsylvania,” said Vela. “Because the programs are supplied via video conferencing, teachers are finding it easy to incorporate into their curriculum.”

Students get an authentic taste for the lives of women who were the early change agents in American history. Among the 100 video conferences offered, students can learn about science by sorting, classifying and discovering how the basics of science play a role in the life of a rancher, or they can discover the story of the women of the American West during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century’s who displayed extraordinary courage and pioneer spirit in their trail blazing efforts. While they’re at it, students learn that “cowgirl” is a word that is broadly construed and incorporates many people who all played a role in the West – from artists to ranchers.

Schools eligible for the program are those that meet one or more of the below criteria:

  • Exceptionally Rural – population between 2,500 and 5,000 (city population that the school is in)
  • Rural – population between 5,001 and 10,000 (city population that the school is in)
  • Mid-Rural – population between 10,001 and 20,000 (city population that the school is in)
  • 50-75% of students are on the free and reduced lunch program
  • 75% or more of students are on the free and reduced lunch program

Schools in the Dallas/Fort Worth area can also take advantage of on-site Museum programs, where 1,000 students will be provided with complimentary admission for themselves and teachers, including transportation fees. Students will be provided a docent-led tour, interactive activity stations and take-home materials.

The application process is a simple one-page request form, signed by the campus principal or curriculum specialist. The form is available on-line at or by calling 817.509.8961.


  1. This sounds like a good program, and what a good way to get kids interested in horses and learn about history at the same time.

  2. That is a good idea.. I think that it would be good for the kids to learn more about horses and get them to get into them more we need something like this every were…

  3. that’s a neat idea! kudos to bringing the women of the west to the attention of students. i wish i could sit in on one of the classes, i’d really enjoy learning with them!


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