The Goleta Valley Historical Society recently named Amanda De Lucia as its new director. “One of the things I really want to focus on is increasing our membership and increasing our volunteer base,” explained De Lucia. “So much of that is being out in the community and being involved.”
Located in Goleta, the Historical Society is dedicated to preserving the land once owned by the Stow family. Members of the Stow family have been an integral part of Goleta Valley history for well over a century. The Stow House and Rancho La Patera were built and developed by the Stow family in 1876. The family had utilized their land over the years for the agricultural production of various kinds of nuts and lemons. The family had also been involved in local government and was instrumental in founding the city college system. The Historical Society gives guided tours of the Stow House on the weekends, and the surrounding area is a Goleta city park, so it’s available to the public anytime.
De Lucia was born and raised in Santa Barbara and has always been fascinated by area history. She graduated from the University of Utah with a master’s degree in history and spent time as a police officer in Salt Lake City before deciding to return home to Santa Barbara. After gaining some experience with a nonprofit organization at the S.B. Maritime Museum, De Lucia decided she wanted to persue a career involving her history background at the Historical Society. “The preservation of the open spaces and historical places are very critical, because once they’re gone, they’re gone,” said De Lucia. De Lucia also hopes to bring more members and volunteers to the Historical Society. “You need to engage people so that they have a sense of pride of where they live. It’s not just about living, this didn’t show up overnight, but it could also go away tomorrow. The board of directors has been such a hardworking board over the years to work with the City of Goleta.”
The Goleta Valley Historical Society is a tiny operation. “It’s a very small staff and they’ve done an incredible job with people working 20 hours a week,” De Lucia said. “You need to get people here to help them understand what we do here.” When it comes to recruiting volunteers and members, “It comes back down to the exposure,” she continued. “I really encourage people to come out and visit. We’re only open on the weekend for the tour of the ranch and the house, but people can come here any time. It doesn’t cost you anything. It’s a different experience from walking into a traditional museum.”
There are a variety of things that volunteers can do at the Stow House. “People don’t get out nearly enough anymore, especially kids, that’s why it’s so much fun to bring them out here. We have a history education center which is a hands-on area for kids, and we always need volunteers back there. As we start our arboretum restoration project, we’re going to have a lot of opportunities for gardeners — people who like to get their hands in the soil and sweat a little bit. There’s a little bit of everything.”
History experts can learn the history of the house and become docents to give tours, the gift shop needs people to work retail, there’s lots of work with heavy machinery to be done in the massive yard, and interpreters are always needed.