By SARA JANE RUGGLES/Special To The Coeur d’Alene Press
| December 27, 2020 1:00 AM

2021 will be an exciting year for the Museum of North Idaho (MNI). I am very fortunate to be a part of the fun as we launch the first episode of the Museum’s podcast series on January 8th. As the host of the program, I am excited to announce that our inaugural episode will feature an oral history interview with Mayor Steve Widmyer.

The podcast will air on a bi-weekly basis and listeners will find links to each episode on the MNI website. Each month, we will produce our episodes in accordance with the nationally celebrated theme of that month, such as National Women’s History Month in March or Native American Indian Heritage Month in November. Since January is National Mentorship Month, we will celebrate mentors in our community. In my interview with Mayor Widmyer, we will discuss those who mentored him, both scholarly and professionally, as he grew up in the Coeur d’Alene area.

Also, we will be discussing the living history of our community by covering some of the major topics that face our city leaders today in order capture a glimpse of Coeur d’Alene in the early 2020s. This interview will also give Mayor Widmyer an opportunity to mentor the future generations of city leaders and business owners who will take on the challenge of successfully navigating the growth and development of our community in the coming decades. Yet, as I have been preparing to celebrate mentors in January, I have also realized that this is a great opportunity to gather some public history from local residents.

Many of the mentors in our lives are those who didn’t knowingly sign up for the job. Most of them don’t even realize the depth of the mark they leave on our memories. They are the unsung heroes of our well-being, who likely will not be the focus of any published history books. They are the high school teachers who inspired us to follow a dream, the local tradesman who passed down their craft to the next generation, and the business owner who was the best boss we could have ever asked for. Often their influence on our lives falls under the heading of “they taught me everything I know.” We as a community can make sure they are not forgotten.

In observance of National Mentorship Month, I want to ask our long-time residents to write down your memories of local mentors in our community who influenced your life. Write about how you crossed paths with that person. Were they a family friend, relative, teacher, coach, boss, or colleague? Write a bit about who they were, where they worked in town or what street they lived on. Write about how they influenced your life. Did they teach you a trade that paved the way for your career? Did they pass down invaluable advice or did they lead by action and example? Did they educate you and inspire you to study a particular field? While these little details may seem small on a grand scale, each is a small morsel of historical information that contributes to understanding the history and evolution of our region.

After you have written your slice of local history, I encourage you to contact the Museum of North Idaho to see how they can use your public history submission in their archive and tell a more well-rounded story of our collective past.

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Remember to enjoy the journey and please reach out to me through my website with questions: sarajaneruggles.com