Fourth-Grade Students Present Pioneer Immersion Program Exhibit at Vesterheim

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Posted: May 6, 2019

DECORAH, Iowa — Area fourth-grade students are proud to present an exhibit of their pioneer projects and journals at Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center! The projects were created while participating in the Pioneer Immersion Program, a collaboration between area schools and Vesterheim. The exhibit will be open in Vesterheim’s Main Building from May 13 to 19, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

There will be an Open House on Thursday, May 16, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. with free admission. “Everyone is welcome, and this is a wonderful opportunity to see the projects and journals, and meet the students who made them,” Jennifer Kovarik, Vesterheim’s Youth Educator, said.

The students participating in the exhibition are from the Decorah Community Schools and St. Benedict School, plus homeschoolers. The Pioneer Immersion Program is funded in 2019 by Barbara & Rich Amundson, Joann Voltmer, and Sons of Norway Decorah Lodge.

Each spring, Vesterheim becomes a classroom for fourth-grade students, who visit the museum and immerse themselves in the history and culture of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century immigrants. This program uses the Norwegian-American experience as a jumping-off point for exploring the experiences of other immigrant groups.
Prior to their visits to the museum, the students create immigrant identities for themselves using immigrant diaries, documents, and often their own family stories. The students record their impressions and thoughts in their journals as they take part in activities at the museum, like packing an immigrant trunk, constructing a “log” home, and completing a series of typical pioneer chores. Along with their journals, students make a project related to immigrant or pioneer history.

With world-class exhibitions and 12 historic buildings in scenic Decorah, Iowa, Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, showcases the best in historic and contemporary Norwegian folk and fine arts, and explores the American immigrant experience. This national treasure is also a center for folk-art education, offering a wide variety of classes in authentic Norwegian folk art every year. For more information on the museum’s exhibitions, classes, events, membership opportunities, and ways to donate, check Vesterheim’s website at, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 502 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.