Youth Education at the Gathering

Each year around National Cowboy Poetry Gathering time, students from northeastern Nevada are immersed in the music, poetry, stories and cultures of the cowboy West. Over 7,200 young people from kindergarten through high school experience cowboy poetry, hear excellent western music, learn about gearmaking traditions, and share their own creative work focused on life in the rural West. Parents and Educators, to register for school programs, please contact Jan Petersen by phone at 775-738-5668 (evenings please).

Youth Education programs are popular features of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and space is always limited, so make your reservations as early as possible. Questions about the teen programs should be directed to the Western Folklife Center Programs Coordinator at 775-738-7508 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Youth festival exhibition tour, photo by Charlie Ekburg Western Folklife Center Youth Festival
Each year, students are invited to visit thw Western Folklife Center to learn about cowboy life, be the first visitors to our latest exhibit, and have some hands-on educational fun. 
This year, the program includes a tour of the Western Folklife Center exhibition, Of Vaqueros and Rancheros,which will share the artwork, cowboy gear and culture of vaqueros from Baja California Sur in Mexico. Students will also  enjoy a hands-on leather-stamping activity, find out how cowboys live, learn to tie a cowboy scarf (and take it home!), and have a glass of sarsaparilla in the Pioneer Saloon. For the 31st Gathering, the Youth Festival will be held at the Western Folklife Center from January 20-22, 2015. Each group participated in an 80-minute session. The youth festival is appropriate for grades 3 and 4. Read a blog posting about this event! Cost: $2 per student.

Student Art Show
From January until April, artwork from students around Elko County will be displayed in the Western Folklife Center’s G Three Bar Theater.

Student Art, photo by Charlie Ekburg
Art teachers and instructors are encouraged to work with students to create work for this Student Art Show. In honor of our cultural exchange guests from the mountains of southern Baja California, this year's suggested theme is Buckaroos and Vaqueros. All grades are welcome to enter artwork; there is no cost for participation. A call for exhibit-ready artwork will go out through the Elko County schools, and exhibit-ready artwork should be delivered to the Western Folklife Center no later than Friday, January 9, 2015. Artwork will be on display from Tuesday, January 20, 2015 through Saturday, April 11, 2015. A reception will be held for artists, parents, friends and the public, on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, from 4:30-6:30pm. Due to space limitations, a maximum of 25 pieces from each school will be accepted for exhibition.

School assembly, photo by Charlie Ekburg On-Site Assemblies
Early in the week of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, cowboy artists will travel to schools throughout Elko County, to entertain and educate students about cowboy poetry and traditional music.
These programs are excellent for all grade levels. Performance times are flexible and established at booking on a first-come, first-served basis, depending on school locations. On-site assemblies are available for Monday, January 26, and Tuesday, January 27, 2015.will be provided when available for the next Gathering. Anticipated but not confirmed cost: $300 for one assembly, $500 for two assemblies (by same performers at the same school).

This year, you can pick from two assembly options: Vaqueros and musicians from Baja California Sur in Mexico, or a show featuring Sourdough Slim, Robert Armstrong and Australian bush poet Carol Heuchan.

Cow Kids’ Stampede
We always offer great bands for the Cow Kids’ Stampede held at the Elko Convention Center Auditorium on Wednesday, January 28, 2015. There are two 45-minute show options to choose from, a morning show at 10:00 am and an early afternoon show at 12:30 pm.The program will feature Montana musical group Wylie & The Wild West who will delight with original songs about the West, songs to get you dancing, and marathon yodeling.The show is appropriate for students in all grades. Cost: $2 per student.

Young Buckaroo Open Mic & Talent Showcase
This is an opportunity for students 18 and under to share their creativity with the public, in a safe and welcoming atmosphere. It’s a highlight for our Gathering audiences, too! 
Young Poet in 2009, photo by Tamara Kubacki
Young folks are encouraged to perform original poetry, classic recitations, western music and dance. The event is held 6:15–7:30 pm on Thursday, January 29, 2015, in the Elko Convention Center’s Turquoise Room and hosted by Deb Howard and Valerie Aguirre-Alt. This event is free to both participants and audience. Session registration begins at 5:45 pm on January 29, 2015. Please encourage your students to participate!

2013 Poetry Slam, photo by Charlie Ekburg Teen Poetry & Music Slam
Calling all teens interested in presenting poetry, spoken word, short prose and songs in a fun and friendly environment! We're kicking off the 31st Gathering by inviting you to share your skill onstage at the Western Folklife Center from 5:00 - 6:00 pm on Wednesday, January 28, 2015
This is a fun, free opportunity to share original work, present classic poetry, and meet master poets in a friendly environment. Signups begin at 4:00 pm in the Western Folklife Center lobby. Material can be original, classic, or cowboy. Presentations should be limited to 5-8 minutes. 

From Page to Stage
In this poetry recitation class, cowboy poets and reciters Randy Rieman and Joel Nelson show how they breathe life into the written word–and thrill audiences while doing it. This will be an intense, fun and hands-on coaching session for interested teens to learn to present poetry from masters of the craft. High school teachers – space is limited, so priority will be given to students participating in Poetry Out Loud or who have shown a commitment to reciting poetry.  The workshop will take place morning and early afternoon of Wednesday, January 28, 2015. Appropriate for grades 9-12, participation is free. To register, contact Kelly Moon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

We thank Barrick Gold of North America, Inc., Bretzlaff Foundation, Newmont Mining, Reno Rodeo Charitable Foundation, Nevada Arts Council, NV Energy, National Endowment for the Arts, Wrangler, and the many other businesses, organizations and individual donors for their generous support of the Western Folklife Center’s Youth Education Stakeholder Program.

Our student education programs cost the Western Folklife Center between $8 - $12 per child. We are able to underwrite these programs to keep costs affordable through the support of federal, state, business, foundation, and individual sources. Please consider sending letters to your legislators expressing the importance of these invaluable programs.