Dickinson State University (DSU) hosted the National History Day in North Dakota Western Regional Contest on Wednesday, March 13. Held in the DSU Student Center Ballroom, students from Dickinson Middle School and Trinity Elementary presented their projects in the individual and group exhibit categories in the junior (grades 6-8) division. Through judging, students were selected to advance to the state contest scheduled for April 17 at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum in Bismarck.

Students and projects eligible to advance to the state contest are:

Dickinson Middle School (Sponsor: Alyssa Wagner)

Yellowstone National Park: Setting the Precedent for Future Natural Preservation: Alexys Croft

Native American Boarding Schools in North Dakota: Jack Chibande

The Homestead Act: Alea Paluck

Native American Way of Life: Gabi Munds, Maycee Skones

Spanish American War: Morgyn Filipi, Ava Propp, Haileigh Seelye

North Dakota’s Enchanted Highway: Marlee Adair, Reece Hall

Trinity Elementary North (Sponsor: Tina Meyer)

Marquis de Mores and the North Dakota Winter of 1886: Drew Wells

National History Day in North Dakota is a project-based learning program that emphasizes critical reading and thinking skills, research, analysis, and the drawing of meaningful conclusions. Students can complete these projects in groups or as individuals in one of five categories: documentary, paper, exhibit, performance, or website. They then compete in either the junior (grades 6-8) or senior (grades 9-12) division. 

This year’s National History Day theme is “Turning Points in History.” Although students participating in NHD may pursue their choice of subjects, all participants in the regional contest selected topics related to North Dakota or Theodore Roosevelt. Students presented projects on Native American culture, the Spanish American War, the Enchanted Highway, the Marquis de Morès, Yellowstone National Park, Native American boarding schools, and the Homestead Act.

“I appreciate the State Historical Society of North Dakota’s continued partnership with DSU to bring this regional contest to our community and to keep the NHD program accessible to secondary students in our area,” said Dr. Jeff Wells, Dennis and Vaune Johnson Endowed Chair in U.S. History. “I’m also thankful for the volunteers and support we get from across campus and the community to make this event possible.”

Bob Fuhrman, director of the Dickinson Museum Center, and Jessica Stratton, Joachim Museum collection manager, served as the lead judges with assistance from DSU History Education and Social Science Education students Alex Bibb, Jaret Hutmacher, and Tyson Krahe. This was the second year as an NHD volunteer for Bibb and Krahe.

“My experience as a judge was great, getting to collaborate with fellow students and historians from the museum,” Bibb said. “The program is a great way for kids to learn more about the history of not only North Dakota but the world. The participants this year had very in-depth and knowledgeable projects, and when interviewing them each, it was evident that they, too, share a love for history. I look forward to seeing more from the program and seeing the students grow their love for history.”

During the event, William Hansard, the outreach coordinator for the Theodore Roosevelt Center at DSU, presented a talk on Theodore Roosevelt as a writer and instructed the students on how to use the primary sources available through the TR Center (https://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/) to improve their projects before the state contest. The TR Center and the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library also contributed prizes for the student participants.

Hansard and Wells will provide support for a school-level NHD contest at Williston High School on March 27. The Williston students were unable to participate in the regional contest at Dickinson because of spring break.

First and second-place state winners at the state contest will be eligible to compete in the national contest at the University of Maryland, College Park, in June. 

National History Day in North Dakota provides teacher training and classroom resources throughout the year. Students, teachers, or parents interested in participating in the 2025 contest should reach out to Madison Milbrath, the education outreach coordinator at the State Historical Society of North Dakota and the state coordinator for National History Day, (701) 328-2794 or mrmilbrath@nd.gov.

Check out photos from DSU's National History Day Contest at https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBhvAm.