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Meet Jenna Wachtmann

Jenna WachtmannWhat role does Ball Brothers Foundation play in Indiana history?

Ball Brothers Foundation is one of the state’s oldest and largest private family foundations. Edmund B. Ball, one of the five Ball brothers, provided the initial gift that created the foundation in 1926. Over the years, other gifts from Ball family members have added to the endowment, out of which approximately $6 million in grants is made annually. The Ball brothers dedicated their philanthropic support to Muncie and the state, and this tradition continues today.

Tell us why Ball Brothers Foundation chose to sponsor You Are There 1948: Communities Can!

Ball Brothers Foundation has extended grant funding for a number of projects that honor Indiana’s Bicentennial. When IHS approached us with this idea, we were delighted. From the very beginning, each aspect of the exhibit was carefully researched and brought to life by the IHS team and their community partners. We were particularly excited about the collaboration between IHS and Minnetrista, a 40-acre center for nature, history, gardens and art, which is located in Muncie and which also holds the principle collection of Ball family personal and corporate artifacts. We are a big believer in the power of partnerships, and the development of this interactive exhibit is a great testament to what can happen when organizations work together. 

What are your thoughts on Communities Can! and how it takes visitors back in time to an era when women canned in Ball Brothers Company facilities?

When our staff attended the opening of the exhibit, we were captivated! When you step through the historic photo you are truly transported back in time – from the ladies’ chatter, to the sounds of the clinking Ball jars on the countertops, to the bright apple peels and the red-hot candies. The interactive nature of the exhibit lends itself to thought-provoking conversations about the effects of World War II, the history of food preservation, and the enduring value of gathering together to prepare nourishing food. I think many of us have special memories of canning – or simply cooking – alongside our mothers, grandmothers, family members and friends. This exhibit captures the essence of those moments and will hopefully encourage visitors to create their own new memories. 

Why do you think it is important to connect with the past?

Exhibits like Communities Can! inspire curiosity and creativity as they allow us a window into the past and to spur ideas for the future. These exhibits help us recognize where we’ve been and allow us to pay tribute to those who have come before us. At the same time, they help us better understand where we are positioned in history and how we can make a difference moving forward.