Even as the annual Heritage Month celebration comes to a close, there’s still plenty of time for every Arkansan to get out and enjoy our beautiful state.

It should come as no surprise that as director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, I have plenty of administrative duties, but one part of my job that people may not think of is that I am the state’s heritage cheerleader.

I encourage my fellow Arkansans to get out and explore – take time to visit one of DAH’s top-notch museums, a natural area or historic site. While we love to know people are doing things to observe Heritage Month each May, there are year-round opportunities to experience what makes our state great.

For example, one of my most distinct childhood memories is of taking a road trip from Pine Bluff, my hometown, to Warren to visit my grandparents. What stands out in my mind is going by the Bradley County Courthouse and thinking how beautiful it was with its stately clock tower. I also remember driving by a particular historic home with huge white columns.

I know now that the Bradley County Courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places and that style of home is called "Colonial." Back then however, I just loved the big columns and the fact that it was so different from the home where I lived. My love for history is no surprise really, considering that my mother was a history teacher in Pine Bluff for more than 30 years.

However, I also remember playing on Bayou Bartholomew. As a child, I didn’t know it’s the longest bayou in the world, I just loved that we’d build rafts (though never get very far) and play for hours on the long vines that hang from the trees there. Today, I also know that the bayou interacts with Byrd Lake, a Natural Area maintained by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, a DAH agency.

Even if I weren’t director of DAH, my relationship with history and heritage would remain. My son is a self-proclaimed "history nerd" and that’s his college major. My daughter is an artist and we all love visiting historic and cultural sites whenever we travel either in Arkansas or outside the state.

I share these stories to note that there are any number of ways to celebrate our state’s culture and lore. If you need ideas, visit our website ArkansasHeritage.com, where you can find links that will take you to each of our facilities or agencies.

It’s my hope that everyone in Arkansas will embrace the thought behind our 2015 theme, "From the Delta to the Hills," and get out and enjoy our state’s rich heritage.

Stacy Hurst was appointed director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage in January 2015 by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.