Lynne Forder

I have been interested in Laura since early elementary school. I don’t remember when I read my first Laura book but know I had read them all by the end of second grade. The summer before third grade my mom gave me the Zochart book, and I was even more hooked. I still have a fondness for that book because it was the first book to clue me into the real people and that you could find the actual places. My first homesite visit was De Smet in 1981 when the gift shop was still in the lean-to of the Surveyor’s house. In the 1990s, driving my grandparents to see family in South Dakota and Oklahoma, I managed to add in De Smet, Walnut Grove, Kansas, and Mansfield side trips. In the 2000s, when it was my turn to set up a preschool story time/activity, it would be a My Little House Picture Book and an associated activity. In the 2010s, when our elementary school reestablished the 4th Grade Laura Ingalls Wilder/Pioneer Day, I was helping with it even without having a 4th grader. The 4th grade teachers selected the coordinator from that grade level, and the year I actually had a 4th grader, I was their unanimous selection for coordinating. That year it also fell on a STEM day, so they asked if I could possibly do an activity that could meet the STEM requirement. The centers I set up (wheat grinding and haysticks, butter making and dough kneading, games from the books, and “can you make your furniture fit into your dugout”) were so well received that the following year the teachers expanded the time and deliberately chose the STEM day. I continued helping for a couple of years after my 4th grader and overall inserted more about the real Laura into the event. Also in the 2010s, in 2012 the one Camp Laura happened at the perfect time for me to be able to attend my first Laurapalooza with my then 8 year old daughter. I have attended every Laurapalooza since then and look forward to each one. The conference itself is great with so many interesting topics, and I love seeing old friends from previous years again and making new ones and having that Laura Ingalls Wilder connection.