Monday, August 20, 2018

Time for a Change

By Kelli Huggins, Education Coordinator

I have a big, bittersweet announcement to make: I have accepted a new job as a Visitor Experience Coordinator at the Catskill Interpretive Center in Mount Tremper, NY and I will be leaving my position at CCHS on August 31. This is an exciting opportunity for me professionally and personally, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have any sadness about leaving. Please accept this rambling farewell letter to all of you--our readers, friends, and visitors--as my final CCHS blog post.
My new stomping grounds
I have been at CCHS for over 5 years now and moved to Elmira having never been here before. I know this region has its struggles and people tend to dismiss it, but as a newcomer, I found incredible opportunity. As a historian, I marvel every day at how rich this county’s history is (and will continue to be far into the future). As an educator, I’ve had the fortune to work with thousands of local children and have seen how smart, empathetic, and interested in history they can be. Please embrace these positives.
Just look at these smart 2nd graders learning about gold panning in their westward expansion unit!
I’m grateful to everyone out there who read one of my blog posts, attended a program at CCHS, or bought my book. As you may have noticed, I’m not a historian who is interested in the “big” popular stories. Sure, they’re fine and all, but I like the weird stuff, the small tales that normally get lost when we look at the past. My favorite kind of history is infused with humor. I’m particularly proud of Curiosities of Elmira and would be remiss if I didn’t take one more opportunity to shamelessly promote it.

I’ve worked hard to bring our local history to you in new and novel ways, with our History They Didn’t Teach You in School series being my favorite of our successes (don’t forget to sign up for Joy! in December). Thanks to everyone who attended these programs, let us be totally silly, and threw things at Bruce (you’ll understand what that means if you’ve been to the programs…). You always made it fun for me to lead those tours. I also can't leave this blog post without mentioning my alter-ego Mark the Mammoth. I hope you follow him on Twitter. Having built his account from nothing to mini-celebrity, he is strangely one of the parts of this job I will have the most trouble letting go of.

Is it weird that Mark is one of the things I'll miss most about this job?
I won’t go on and wax poetic here for much longer. As you know, my coworkers, Bruce, Erin, Christine, and Rachel are fantastic and smart. I’ve been lucky to have a chance to spend the last 5 years learning from them. They’ll be stuck picking up the slack while they wait to hire my replacement, so please be extra nice to them in this transition period as they add even more work to their busy schedules. And please be as nice to the new educator as you all were to me. If you find yourself in the Catskills, please feel free to say hi!


  1. Best of luck Kelli with your new will be missed. We have enjoyed all your classes and History They Didn't Teach You in School programs. Continue writing we have enjoyed your book.

  2. Having never been to the Chemung County Historical Society I found Mark the Mammoth on Twitter. He has been (and I hope continue to be) a delight. Thank you for your hard work and best of luck on your next endeavor.

  3. Kelli, you came here and immersed yourself in our history and now you've become a large part of our best memories, our history. We will be eagerly looking forward to your next book!
    Best wishes, as always!