Story & Mission

Our Story

The Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center was established by former U.S. Senator Wendell Ford upon his retirement from the Senate in 1998. Senator Ford believed that the future of our nation depended upon our young people understanding and appreciating the role of government, its structure and operation; and that the principles by which he conducted his work: civil discourse, cooperation, and the willingness to compromise, are vital to shaping effective legislation. Opened in 1999, the Center is a Kentucky non-profit corporation recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax exempt 501(c)3 organization. Located in Mr. Ford’s hometown, Owensboro, Kentucky, the Center includes educational exhibits covering the career of Senator Ford from his tenure as Kentucky State Senator, Lt. Governor, Governor, and U.S. Senator. It also includes information explaining how legislation is passed and a history of the position of Whip, or assistant party floor leader, a post Senator Ford held for eight years prior to his retirement.


The Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center is a non-partisan, non-profit organization working to help students gain an objective understanding of the issues that face their community, state, and nation, to recognize the vital role of government, and to embrace the principles of civility, cooperation, and compromise. 

The main goal of the Center is to provide programming for students, helping them to understand issues facing our community, state, and nation, and the importance of being able to look at opposing viewpoints and work together to solve problems. Plans for the future include hosting local, state, and national speakers who will address pertinent issues and expanded programs for area students. We currently serve students in a five county area and plan to further develop programs and materials that can be duplicated for use throughout our state and region.

The Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center has been and will continue to be wholly dedicated to educational efforts furthering the principles by which Senator Ford functioned during his successful 24 year career in Congress. The Center is managed by its corporate board, and is advised by a local council composed of citizens who believe in the mission envisioned by Senator Ford. Daily operation of the Center is the responsibility of our Executive Director, who is assisted by local citizen volunteers. We are non-partisan and promote neither political positions of any kind nor the candidacy of any individual for any office. All funds disbursed are used to further the non-profit educational work of the museum. Our goal is to educate students about the workings of our political system, help them learn leadership skills including the ability to cooperate and seek compromise in order to create solutions to problems, and to become more productive citizens.