Public, Society Benefit

GIANTS OF THE EARTH HERITAGE CENTER

  • Spring Grove, MN
  • www.springgrovemnheritagecenter.org

Mission Statement

GIANTS OF THE EARTH HERITAGE CENTER, INC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring, preserving, and interpreting the history and heritage of the American Midwest in order to cultivate the multigenerational consciousness required for sustained community stewardshiMinnesota, the center uses the latest collaborative genealogical sources and cutting edge personal genomic technology to create a personalized historical experience for all members.

Main Programs

  1. Senior Citizens' Oral Histories
  2. MHC compatibility in small communities
  3. Educational Programs for Genealogists
  4. Norwegian Ridge Language Camp
  5. Genetic Genealogy Webconferencing

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Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Giants of the Earth Heritage Center's educational and oral histories programming serves locals in Spring Grove, MN and the surrounding area. Further, the Center's online resources are accessed by people around the United States and Europe. These services include a collaborative genealogical and genetic ancestry research database.  We have had 185,000 individual visitors to our main website on www.trueheritage.org(http://www.trueheritage.org)  and our sister facebook pages, have had nearly 1 million post views.

ruling year

2009

Principal Officer since 2011

Self-reported

Johnathan Storlie PhD

Keywords

Self-reported

genealogy, Pioneers, American experience, genomics, genetic genealogy, ancestry, ancestors, Norwegian-America, Sons of Norway, German-American Heritage Foundation, Spring Grove, Houston County, Minnesota, History of Minnesota, Norwegian Immigrants, Norwegian Emigrants, MHC analysis, cord blood banking, vaccine development research, educational institution, community education, SNP associated studies, microarray analysis, ancestral analysis, relative finding, sister cities, Hadeland, Hallingdal, Sigdal, Norwegian, Norsk, medical research, college research

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Also Known As

GIANTS OF THE EARTH HERITAGE CENTER INC

EIN

26-4545682

 Number

0217591491

Physical Address

163 W MAIN

Spring Grove, MN 55974

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

Cultural, Ethnic Awareness (A23)

Adult, Continuing Education (B60)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Giants of the Earth Heritage Center has provided local and online services, with speakers, oral video history interviews, classes, seminars, and genetic genealogy analysis and support. Giants maintains an exponentially growing database, currently containing nearly 50,000 names from Houston, Fillmore, Winneshiek, and Allamakee Counties, including censuses, photos, videos, and audio records. This database is the new framework for preservation of records of historical significance. Giants is leading the way in providing personalized historical preservation and sharing services.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Senior Citizens' Oral Histories

Preserving the stories of senior citizens, and affixing their stories to our collaborative online inclusive family tree is a top priority for Giants of the Earth Heritage Center. The Giants of the Earth Heritage Center not only wishes to preserve senior stories in the short run, but we also wish to create a video editing station within the Giants of the Earth Headquarters, where community members can digitize and share their historical analog videos, to be interspersed with the oral histories in the creation of historical movies documenting our ancestors experiences.

Category

Community Development

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified

Aging/Elderly/Senior Citizens

Adults

Budget

$20,000.00

Program 2

MHC compatibility in small communities

Currently, cord blood is banked by numerous American couples, despite the fact that there is only a 1 in 5 chance of this blood matching a fraternal sibling of the child donor. Further, it is frequently difficult to find compatible organ donors when individuals need them. While technologies exist to identify immune system compatibility between two random individuals, no systematic study has been performed on how to best identify the total number of MHC compatible individuals worldwide. Perhaps the best place to perform preliminary research on developing a compatibility database that would make future regenerative therapies possible would be small towns of highly interrelated individuals. Using human SNP chips, such a study is both possible and highly repeatable.

Spring Grove is a small historic town, located along Norwegian Ridge in Southeastern Minnesota. As the first Norwegian settlement in Minnesota, the town attracted Norwegian settlers, primarily from Hallingdal, Hadeland, and Sigdal. Spring Grove has a well researched and very intertwined family tree, and as such provides a very unique opportunity to study many aspects related to genetics using SNP associated studies. Preliminary evidence suggests that within small communities like Spring Grove, MHC similarity can be shared not only by siblings, but also by distant cousins, who are frequently cousins multiple times over. As a trusted nonprofit organization within the community, Giants of the Earth Heritage Center is in a unique position to conduct research of great significance for the future of regenerative therapy and for the development of personalized vaccines which are both effective and non-autoimmunogenic. We seek funding therefore to provide genetic SNP tests to 100 members of the community. The SNP tests would cost us $400 for the complete test if we order 50 or more at one time. For this particular study, the health related results of the test could be viewable by each participant in the study, as each individual would have complete control over their password and would be requested to only share their information at a "basic" level, which does not include health information. This study will have great fecundity in itself and as a foundation for future studies. Because each SNP kit will provide information on more than 1/2 million SNPs within each person's genome, it lays the foundation for numerous future studies using the same participants that could be conducted at virtually no cost to us or other organizations conducting the research. Due to its proximity to local colleges, participants in the study would also be excellent candidates for nearby student research, allowing local students the opportunity to publish any number of associative studies. Further, these data could be particularly useful at a later date for making sense of the Norwegian Biobank and the data available through Norwegian longitudinal studies, as most of the ancestors of people in Spring Grove came originally from Norway, and would therefore provide a different environment for the same genes to be critically analyzed.

Category

Medical Research

Population(s) Served

Aging/Elderly/Senior Citizens

General Public/Unspecified

Adults

Budget

$40,000.00

Program 3

Educational Programs for Genealogists

Provide training and assistance to members looking for building or writing their family history. The cost includes subscriptions to online genealogical resources, salaries for teachers, printing costs, and site rental fees.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Adults

General Public/Unspecified

Young Adults (20-25 years) -- currently not in use

Budget

$2,500.00

Program 4

Norwegian Ridge Language Camp

The Norwegian Ridge Language Camp is a very successful camp for 4-17 year old children to learn Norwegian from native speakers at Minnesota's first Norwegian settlement in Spring Grove, MN, formerly known as Norwegian Ridge. Please visit www.trueheritage.org to see videos and pictures.

Category

Arts, Culture & Humanities

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Budget

$20,000.00

Program 5

Genetic Genealogy Webconferencing

Giants of the Earth Heritage Center’s Genetic Genealogy Webconferencing Project will provide the same type of genetic genealogy assistance to remote members of Giants of the Earth Heritage Center as it presently does to local users. While millions of people have received genetic tests that could be used for genealogical purposes, most do not understand how to make optimal use of them. These people would be willing to either join an organization that assists them in interpreting their results or pay for such services directly. Thus there is a large market for consultants in genetic genealogy. We intend to provide these services with a trained staff who will work individually or in family groups through webconferencing using the well establishe GoToMeeting software. This software allows for remote desktop sharing and video and audio conferencing for up to 16 users simultaneously.

Category

Science & Technology

Population(s) Served

Adults

Budget

$30,000.00

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    Giants of the Earth Heritage Center is a community stewardship-focused society, specializing in, but not limited to, Norwegian-Americans. The heritage center seeks to raise awareness of what positive psychologists such as Marshall Duke, PhD, refer to as an Intergenerational Self. Marshall Duke's research has shown that exposure to personal family narratives reflecting the oscillating success and failure realities of life, was highly correlated with resilience, or the ability to adapt successfully to challenges in life. By engaging participants in our organization in their own families multigenerational stories we provoke and culturally enriching community events that challenge them to understand their place in history, both as individuals and family members, from various perspectives. Through genealogy, genetic ancestry, our 6th grade Giants' Immigrant Experience Academy, oral history and video documentaries, fine and folk art classes, language, cultural, and music camps, and lectures and festivals, and Ola and Per folk humor, we provide our community with a diverse set of experiences to view our society historically from an antiquarian, monumental, and deconstructive perspective. Again, Dr. Duke's longitudinal studies at Emory University have shown that families and communities familiar with an oscillating narrative based upon shared stories, have life expectations set that empower them to adapt to those issues that arise in their lives. Within Spring Grove's family tree, currently numbering 65,000 individuals we can find thousands of individual stories representing the classic myths that Dr. Duke and Dr. Robyn Fyvush have shown to be important for cultivating resilience. These mythic elements, as outlined by others and well explained by individuals such as Joseph Campbell, include:
    Overcoming the Monster
    The Quest
    Voyage and Return
    Rags to Riches
    Tragedy
    Comedy
    Rebirth.
    Giants of the Earth hopes that, wherever you live, you and your family take some time pass down stories from older generations and to actively listen to and encourage the questions that younger generations have as they try to understand and create their own unique contribution to your family's narrative.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    For thousands of years noble lies have evolved and been dogmatically clung to, resulting in strife and war between different cultures who have over-extended the truths of myths into geopolitical areas resulting in unnecessary conflict. Science and true history have the power to transcend the idiosyncracies that divide us and bring us together as a people, all while helping us set reasonable expectations of what is possible in life. Our Genetic Ancestry and Genealogy program acquaints people with thousands of their genetic cousins, helping them to share historical photos, preserve diaries, and learn more about their unique history in order to preserve and at the same time better deconstruct their family narratives. Our Oral Histories program provides a lovely way to preserve the stories of our seniors for generations of children. The stories of children's families provide a very interesting way for children to engage with history, and to appreciate the truly patchwork quilt aspects of their genetic and memetic makeup. Our Norwegian Ridge Language Camp provides wonderful experiences for children to engage with another culture and to learn another language.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    We have a very capable staff, but would like to expand our paid staff in order ensure continuity and also recruit capable people for our technically demanding programs.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Our organization sees progress through the continued increase in the number and the quality of our Oral Histories; the exponential growth of our Genetic Ancestry database and clients; the letters of appreciation we receive from the people we have united with their biological relatives; and the joy our children show in our educational classes and Language Camps.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Our goals of providing Genetic Ancestry services have been met insofar as we have a staff that helps people with their Genetic Ancestry questions Monday through Saturday from 10-5. We have thousands of hours of videos we have collected from our community, some historical, but we hope to continue to document the history of our area with our Oral Histories. Our videos are extremely popular on YouTube and we take pride in the fact that we have the foresight to preserve the stories of so many WWII veterans while we still could. Our Language Camps have also been successful, with large number of children each summer longing to return next year for another fun camp.
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Giants of the Earth Heritage Center's educational and oral histories programming serves locals in Spring Grove, MN and the surrounding area. Further, the Center's online resources are accessed by people around the United States and Europe. These services include a collaborative genealogical and genetic ancestry research database.  We have had 185,000 individual visitors to our main website on www.trueheritage.org(http://www.trueheritage.org)  and our sister facebook pages, have had nearly 1 million post views.

Social Media

Blog

Funding Needs

Our Heritage Center leverages the power of high tech computer technology to provide our Genetic Ancestry, Oral History, and Community Center programs. In order to function and grow, we need to maintain and increase our division of labor by paying a skilled and technically proficient staff a sufficient wage to retain their services. Our Oral Histories project will benefit a large number of local and remote patrons who are interested in the history of our area. It will allow future generations to encounter our senior citizens, their forbears, in the time capsules it creates. We now have the equipment and facility to accomplish this goal. We have an immediate need for $30,000 to increase the number of staff so that we can have sufficient hours to devote to this project by individuals with the required technological skills. We also have an immediate need of $20,000 to increase the number hours that our expert genealogist and genetic genealogist can spend on those two projects. As our seniors are passing away quickly, their stories and the history stored in their DNA will be lost without these programs.

Videos

photos


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Financials

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

GIANTS OF THE EARTH HERITAGE CENTER

Leadership

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  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2015 and 2014
  • Board Chair, Board Co-Chair and Board Members
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Principal Officer

Johnathan Storlie PhD

BIO

PhD, Microbiology, The University of Iowa
Assistant Professor, Luther College
Genealogist 1990-2012
Online Communications Director, 2009-2012, Giants of the Earth Heritage Center
Genetic Genealogist, Giants of the Earth Heritage Center, 2009-20112
Giants of the Earth Heritage Center Board, 2009-2012

STATEMENT FROM THE Principal Officer

"We came together in 2006 as a group of people who started talking about the wonderful and intriguing local stories of those around us, especially the older folks. They made us want to know more! We began meeting to discuss how we could preserve and gather this information. Our ten year Homecoming was the following year and we prepared to begin filming those who cared to share local stories. We borrowed equipment from the school and used space that was loaned to us. We defined topics for discussion and we began taping oral histories. Later, we incorporated as Giants of the Earth Heritage Center, Inc.  We established a Board of Directors and created a mission statement: “to honor, preserve and interpret the history and heritage of the people from Spring Grove’s Norwegian Ridge in SE Minnesota.”  We continued to meet and expanded participation in the Board. Our family tree has grown to include thousands of people in neighboring towns and we have recorded oral histories from people with roots in Houston, Fillmore, Allamakee, and Winneshiek Counties. Our vision grew to include a state-of-the-art genealogy center to bring families into connection with our area family tree, wherever they might live. Further, we created an extremely popular website over which we can share our oral histories in several video and audio formats:  www.springgrovemnheritagecenter.org."

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Karen B Gray

Bluff Country Artists, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Trinity Lutheran Church Council

Term: May 2009 -

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


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CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


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ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


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BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?