Lily Sumner

Lily Sumner

2020 Amazing Kid - Estacada News
Age: 15
School: Summit Learning Center
Hometown: Estacada, Or
Why she is Amazing: Lily is dedicated to sharing the area's history to visitors at Phillip Foster Farm National Historic Site.



Lily Sumner is finding inspiration for her future by looking to the past. 

Lily, a student at Summit Learning Charter, spends time each week volunteering at Philip Foster Farm National Historic Site. She began her work there one year ago to become more involved with the community. 

“The opportunity came up, and I thought it would be amazing,” says Lily, 15. “The rest is history.” 

Philip Foster Farm holds a significant place in Oregon’s history. After journeying from Maine in 1843, Philip Foster, his wife, Mary Charlotte, and their children welcomed many of their fellow travelers at their farm on the historic Barlow Road in Eagle Creek after they had made their journey across the Oregon Trail. The 640-acre property featured a store and places for weary travelers to stay. 

Lily was nominated at the Estacada News’ Amazing Kids by Jennifer Goldman, programming director at Philip Foster Farm. Goldman describes Sumner as “outgoing, self motivated, self possessed, kind, courteous and creative.” 

“Essentially she is incredible. She loves history and is happy to do anything. From fun stuff like running tours to less fun stuff like cleaning dishes. She is independent and finds things to do or research on her own that helps the museum out. She brings antique finds in to show other people and get them as excited about history as she is,” Goldman says. “Overall, she is an inspiration and a joy as a volunteer and a person.” 

When Philip Foster Farm hosts visitors, Lily often acts as a tour guide and shows guests around the historic houses, store and barn. She particularly enjoys “the tours with kids, and talking to them about history.” 

“Once I came here, it got me interested in history and I would love for kids to have that same experience,” Lily says. “History is super important to learn about, and really cool.” 

She also appreciates sharing little details about the interiors of the farm’s buildings with visitors. 

“Looking at what kitchens were like, they were so different back then. We’re so lucky to have what we do today,” she says.

One event Lily especially enjoys being involved with is the annual Girl’s Finishing Camp, where she was a junior counselor last summer. 

“We bonded with the kids, and I was sad when they left. We played games and taught them fun stuff,” she says. “It was great seeing their faces when they learned about the crazy things in the 1800s.” 

Last summer, Lily also helped organize a reenactment of a historic wedding on the farm. Volunteers played the role of bride Mary Elizabeth Welch, groom Max Foster and various members of the wedding party. 

“I helped with the research and learned a lot about the people who lived there, and who people were back then,” she says. 

Along with helping coordinate events, Lily also is involved with researching and archiving the farm’s historic items. 

“The farm gets a lot of donations, so we reach to figure out its age and history. Every item has a history,” she says. “Hunting for that history is really fun.” 

When she isn’t at Philip Foster Farm, Lily takes classes at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City through Summit Learning Charter’s Early College Program. So far, her favorite course has been horticulture. 

“But I haven’t taken a history class yet,” she adds, noting that she’s looking forward to doing so. “Learning about history gives you a guide to deal with today’s decisions. People often went through the same things we go through today. It helps you through life, and it helps you make hard decisions, because you can foresee the consequences.” This mindset has inspired her to learn more about her own family. 

“I do a lot of genealogy and like finding out where my ancestors came from,” Lily says, noting that she’s traced her family line back to the 1600s, when they came to the United States from Oxfordshire, England. 

In the future, Lily hopes to work as a children’s librarian — a decision she credits her time at Philip Foster Farm with helping her make. 

“Dipping my toe in here helped open the door to a passion. It gave me something I could like so much that I wanted to do it for the rest of my life,” she says.