Young Chautauqua for the Public Good

By Christina Barr


The seeds of Great Basin Young Chautauqua began in 1992 at the urging of a group of young people who saw their parents enjoying Nevada Humanities' newly formed Great Basin Chautauqua festival. Recognizing the program's value for young people, Nevada Humanities created the concept of Young Chautauqua and launched the Great Basin Young Chautauqua program in 1993. Since then, Great Basin Young Chautauqua in Reno, and its ancillary inspired programs around the state and the nation, have produced hundreds of thousands of young scholars who are passionate about history and the humanities and confident public speakers. 

Over the years, the Nevada Humanities Board of Trustees has had many opportunities to copyright both the phrase and concept of "Young Chautauqua," but each time this was considered, the Board reinforced its decision to make Young Chautauqua free and available to all interested children everywhere. We strongly believe in the power of this program to transform and inspire young people.

This will be the last year that Nevada Humanities runs Great Basin Young Chautauqua as an after-school program in Reno. We will be shifting our focus to facilitating others to continue their Young Chautauqua work by revising and updating the 1997 Young Chautauqua Handbook—initially created by parent volunteer Susan Tchudi as a comprehensive guide for young people wishing to research and perform historic characters—and making this handbook more readily available to Nevada teachers and communities. We hope that this shift in focus will maximize our limited resources and make Young Chautauqua accessible to children from all walks of life and in all corners of our state. 

Even though Nevada Humanities will no longer be running an after-school Young Chautauqua program, we know that Young Chautauqua will live on and thrive in communities and schools in Reno, throughout Nevada, and beyond. Young Chautauqua is Nevada born and an important part of our young people's lives and our northern Nevada educational framework.


Christina Barr is the Executive Director of Nevada Humanities.

Images/Jessi LeMay