“[Working with the Volunteer Task Force] was the first educational experience that combined my personal life, my academic life, and the life of the community. … It was empowering for a sixth-grade student.”
What has helped you to feel more hopeful about the future?
Crises like the Cerro Grande Fire can affect children in different ways than adults. The community created programs to support them, and listened to what young people had to say. Youngsters across New Mexico donated money and toys—one student even gave his entire collection of Pokémon cards—and teens gave prom dresses. Los Alamos teens went to prom and graduation, determined to be the class of 2000 and not the class of the fire.
Mountain Elementary School was undamaged by the fire, but nearly one in five students had lost their homes in the fire. Their teachers worked with the Volunteer Task Force to make nature study a central part of schoolwork. Studying the forest’s regrowth gave children ways to help and to heal. Teens from across the region worked to rebuild trails in the Family YMCA’s Youth Conservation Corps. There are scientists and community leaders today who say these hours volunteering in the mountains set them on their paths in life.
Header photo by Vint Miller, courtesy Los Alamos County.
Were you here for the Cerro Grande Fire? Click here to share your story with us and to read stories of resilience from friends and neighbors.
When the Los Alamos History Museum reopens, join us in the Guest Cottage to see Resilience and Regrowth in person. The museum exhibit has the space to share even more photographs, artifacts, and personal stories.
Thank you for your donations that made this exhibit possible!
Nancy and John Bartlit
Stephen A. Becker
Brent and Robyn Collom
John S. Hendricks
Hans and Ryn Hermann
Linda and Bob Hill
Mary Pat Kraemer
Robert C. Moore
Ben and Ruth Neal
Deborah and Rick Reiss
John and Kit Ruminer
Santa Fe New Mexican
Georgia and Gerry Strickfaden
Cherie and Andy Trottier
Roger Waterman and Emily McGay
In creating this online exhibit, the Los Alamos Historical Society is supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the New Mexico Humanities Council.