posted March 22, 2018
Pitt-Johnstown alumnus Matt Gault, assistant education director at Fort Ligonier, has been honored by the PA Museums statewide trade association as a top emerging museum professional.
Gault, a Greensburg native, will receive the Carol Wickkiser Memorial Award at the organization's annual statewide museum conference in April 16. The award recognizes “exceptional promise and potential for leadership in an emerging professional with 10 years or less experience in the field.”
He received the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau Tourism Employee of the Year Award last year.
Gault often portrays a young George Washington as he leads tours of the fort and its museum for more than 5,000 school students each year.
Gault said his aim is to humanize Washington as a young man serving Virginia's and Great Britain's interests in Pennsylvania. “It wasn't always smooth sailing. This was his proving ground where he learned a lot,” he said.
Family vacations to preserved sites such as Colonial Williamsburg and Great Lakes forts fed Gault's interest in history, prompting his pursuit of a teaching degree with a social studies focus from Pitt-Johnstown in 2014. A summer internship at Fort Ligonier opened the door to his current position.
The fort's Center for History Education, which opened in April, provides a spacious area for lectures, teacher seminars and kids' activities such as building model forts.
“I love working with kids,” Gault said. “The period clothing is a huge thing they ask about. You try to get them to understand it's the equivalent of them wearing jeans and a T-shirt today.
“What we really try to push is the reason we still learn about history. It not only impacts us today but will impact our future. It's by the way we handle these (comparable) situations that we'll be making history.”
The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.