Nearly 400 Orange County third graders experienced an interactive history lesson at the Nixon Library on April 25 as participants in Orange County’s Gift of History program. The students started the morning with a pep rally-style local history lesson in the Nixon Library’s replica of the White House East Room and ended with a tour of the birthplace of President Richard Nixon. 

Local community leaders and elected officials including President and CEO of the Richard Nixon Foundation Jim Byron, Chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors Don Wagner, Anaheim City Council Member Natalie Meeks, and Mayor of Yorba Linda Tara Campbell were special guests who delivered an engaging history lesson that included student-led cheers, fun facts and entertaining videos.

“Our history is alive all around us” was the message delivered by Stan Oftelie, Orange County historian and author of Nothing Rhymes with Orange, a local history book written for elementary school students and given to over 1700 third graders around the county. The book includes a scavenger hunt with Orange County landmarks, including the Nixon Library.

As host and sponsor of the educational program, President and CEO of the Richard Nixon Foundation Jim Byron explained that the Gift of History Program “dovetails perfectly into the larger initiatives that the Richard Nixon Foundation is now engaged in.”  This includes plans for a civics education center and a special exhibition hall where students will be able to experience hands-on learning scenarios and view important artifacts of American history.

The Gift of History is an award-winning, multi-agency, countywide history program that creates civic pride, builds 21st-century skills, and promotes community engagement among third-grade students. Started in 2007 by the Children’s Education Foundation of Orange County, the program works with public and private partnerships to provide local history books, in-person history events, and curriculum guides for teachers across Orange County.