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Non-profit teaching girls how to uncover BIPOC history using drones

Posted at 10:19 PM, Mar 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-02 01:19:37-05

JULIAN, Calif. (KGTV) — The non-profit, Our Genetic Legacy, teaches young girls of ethnic minorities how to use drones to discover the history of people of color.

ABC 10News has been following the year-long program since it started six months ago.

Bundled up in the bitter cold, the girls trekked through the Juilan Pioneer Cemetery, fixating on the gravesites and the history that lies underneath.

"We've been kind of ramping up for so long and now it's like we're here," said Shellie Baxter, the CEO and founder of Our Genetic Legacy.

Baxter said Julian is believed to be the resting place of several of the area's Black and Indigenous pioneers.

"We know about it as being a white, rural community known for apple pies and snow, and we don't know that it first started because Fred Coleman found gold, and that's what started the mini gold rush here," Baxter said.

Over the past six months, the girls have been learning about the drone technology needed to map gravesites.

"Learning about LiDar theory, survey, and mapping... DNA," Baxter said.

Using a LiDar drone, the group will be able to take an image of the Earth's surface that's invisible to the naked eye.

The technology is often used to detect unmarked graves and can even uncover hidden ruins.

"Our hope is that we'll be able to see the patterns that show the indentations where everybody is and to able to make sure that all of those markers are properly marked, and the graves are accounted for," Baxter said.

Since the girls' first flight training last August, ten have received their drone licenses so far.

"I'm just ready to learn and get to it. I'm so excited," Promise Reid said.

Reid, who's a high school senior, is one of them.

"I feel very relieved and accomplished," Reid said.

Reid said she's always had a passion for history and applied to the program right away.

"It's been an amazing experience. I just feel so empowered just being a young woman of color and surrounded by people that look like me who are in the STEM field," Reid said.

But, the girls have gained more than just drone skills through the program.

There's also a sense of sisterhood, pride, and purpose among the group.

"I feel like everything I've been doing with the project, I've put a personal meaning to it in my life, and I feel like I've connected with all the other girls here, and I know they're all very equally invested," Reid said.

The girls will use their findings to create virtual exhibits for the "We The People" Museum in July.