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Hands-on Learning in Siouxland, Young Journalists ply their Craft, Orange City

16 Jun

 

World Journalism Institute summer workshop participants Rebekah, left and Micaela, right, prepare their cameras to interview a subject in Orange City, Iowa Saturday May 26, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

Recently I met two young ladies who were “learning” and expanding their knowledge of journalism, studying at Dordt University in Sioux Center, attending the World Journalism Institute workshop. The workshop gives them “real-life” experiences reporting stories about locals through which they write, photograph, collect audio and video and produce different end projects so they get a taste of what the various mediums are available to today’s journalists. And the institute from what I understand does this through a more Christian perspective, as per a description on the Institute’s website:

“Our mission is to recruit, equip, place and encourage journalists who are Christians. Journalism is a high calling. WJI is concerned with covering news that remembers the needs of the “uns”: the unborn, the uneducated, the unemployed, and the unfashionable. At WJI’s summer course, you will learn how to hone your writing skills for God’s glory. Journalists and editors who’ve spent decades reporting at home and abroad will grow and challenge you. You can actually get paid to write history’s rough draft, and WJI prepares you for that experience. You’ll witness firsthand social and political settings you might never have been able to access otherwise.”

I met the women in Orange City where remnants of the recent Tulip Festival was still evident on a nice, finally, spring day. Rebekah and Micaela had many questions to which I probably only had a few answers and hope my sharing stories and experiences benefited them a little bit.

Families take photos of still blooming tulips at Windmill Park near downtown Orange City, Iowa Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

 

Tulips still bloom a week after the Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

Students from the workshop were scattered about the region covering stories of interest, and maybe of near interest as I heard of disappointing almost happened stories that fell through and the students were scrambling to fulfill their assignments.

And there were probably other opportunities for stories in Orange City as it seemed especially busy that Saturday morning I visited with them which is a good thing, because I have been there previously when it was more quiet.

A young boy twirls a flag as he walks in downtown Orange City, Iowa Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

 

A family prepares to take photos of three people inside the Wooden Shoe at Windmill Park in Orange City, Iowa Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

Having previously worked for a few different small community newspapers I always enjoyed doing stories in small towns. Again, getting a chance to learn about a place and its residents and sharing their stories with their neighbors and friends. One never knows who one might meet or what story might unfold if you take the time to listen and ask about people’s experiences. And hopefully these two young women and their colleagues spent a fruitful two weeks learning and refining their own skills and creating the kinds of mistakes one only wants to make once as they strive to become storytellers, better listeners, and empathetic to those entrusting them with shared tales.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

World Journalism Institute summer workshop participant, Micaela, photographs a subject she and partner Rebekah just interviewed in Orange City, Iowa Saturday May 26, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

 

World Journalism Institute summer workshop participants Rebekah, right and Micaela, left, prepare their cameras to interview a subject in Orange City, Iowa Saturday May 26, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

Expanding History in Siouxland, The National Music Museum, Vermillion, SD

14 Jun

An expansion project for the National Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota is underway in Vermillion, South Dakota Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

An expansion is underway for the The National Music Museum in Vermillion, SD, where there is a vast collection of musical instruments on display in Siouxland and now with the expansion more will be seen as exhibit space and restoration space grows. The museum won’t be open again until sometime in 2020. I have enjoyed a few musical celebrations in the small performance space which I understand will be enlarged as will an exhibit area to showcase more instruments the museum has acquired and a larger research facility available for those interested.

So for the time being local residents and visitors can only walk by and speculate about the progress and what might lie in store for them once the expansion project is complete.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

National Music Museum staff move items out of the facility on the campus of the University of South Dakota as an expansion project gets underway in Vermillion, South Dakota Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

 

An expansion project for the National Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota is underway in Vermillion, South Dakota Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

 

The National Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. where inside members of brass quintet play Christmas music. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying Perspective in Siouxland, Little Sioux

8 Jun

Sometimes it truly is in the eye of the beholder when a person sees something it is very important in how they see something. Perspective gives an individual an “informed” viewpoint, no matter the subject. In photography I believe that is also true. And how one sees subjects to photograph juxtaposed to other elements included in the frame and can interest, or distract.

A ready field for a later in town harvest seen during a Spring Photo Safari outing in Little Sioux , Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

I found it interesting to find a field “in town” ready for planting. I need to go back to see if it is just a large garden, or a corn or soybean crop. Sunflowers would be a fun crop as well and add interest to a small community. Then again, some scenes only occur at certain points in the year as nature takes its course and winter progresses into spring, into summer and then fall. And in that it is up to the one seeing and recording what those scenes might be and of what interest they may hold to other viewers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spring blooms during a Spring Photo Safari outing in Little Sioux , Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Celebrating Dutch Heritage in Siouxland, Orange City

4 Jun

A young boy rests in his father’s arms as his mom explains he needs a nap during the Orange City, Iowa Tulip Festival, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Catching every corner of the street these two ladies leave no inch untouched during the street scrubbing at the Orange City, Iowa Tulip Festival, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The annual Siouxland Tulip Festival recently once again allowed the community of Orange City to exhibit its Dutch roots and heritage and program a nice day for those attending for a pleasant day trip and a community celebrating. There are some tasty treats both in seeing costumes depicting various regions of the Netherlands as well as food items. Many people participating in the festivities have been doing so for years, maybe decades, beginning when they were students in the schools and later as adults.

There is always time during the Straat Feest to take time and say hello to friends as participants “model” authentic, distinct and varied Dutch attire from the Netherlands during the Orange City, Iowa Tulip Festival, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Local high school students perform traditional Dutch dances at the Orange City, Iowa Tulip Festival, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Civilians “hoof it” across the street as local high school students hoof it as they perform traditional Dutch dances during the Orange City, Iowa Tulip Festival, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always fascinated watching people and while it shouldn’t I am still surprised  that with so much activity going on around one that some folk, while possibly sharing the day, seem more likely disconnected from what is actually happening.

With a lot of Tulip Festival activity going on around them, two young ladies still find time to possibly do social media while in Orange City, Iowa, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it’s fun to see folk sharing their heritage and for some school children, especially those involved in the street cleaning, there may be a little more going on. One young man this year seemed to get caught between his many friends while preparing the streets for the parade.

Participants chat as they await the start of the the Straat Feest where they “model” authentic, distinct and varied Dutch attire from the Netherlands during the Orange City, Iowa Tulip Festival, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The amount of fun that school children (boys) have when cleaning the “dirty” streets is not lost on them, especially on a warm day during the Orange City, Iowa Tulip Festival, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The amount of fun that school children (boys) have when cleaning the “dirty” streets is not lost on them, especially on a warm day during the Orange City, Iowa Tulip Festival, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The amount of fun that school children (boys) have when cleaning the “dirty” streets is not lost on them, especially on a warm day during the Orange City, Iowa Tulip Festival, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ah, what are friends for anyway but to share experiences they can look back on in years to come. And possibly have families that remain in the area and see their children partaking of the same experiences and making their own memories with their friends and sharing a pride of community and heritage that defines a special time and place.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The bristles on the broom look well worn away as a mother also pulls a wagon with her daughters “resting” during the Orange City, Iowa Tulip Festival, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display of wooden shoes at the Orange City, Iowa Tulip Festival, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning more about the Loess Hills in Siouxland, Pisgah

27 May

 

The Loess Hills State Forest Visitors center gives people a background about the Loess Hills is found in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Part of Siouxland is comprised of the Loess Hills which begins just south of Sioux City and runs down into Missouri. A Loess Hills State Forest Visitors Center is located in the small community of Pisgah and gives a great background about the surrounding area and information about the Loess Hills.

A scale model of Preparation Canyon State Park is found in the Loess Hills State Forest Visitors center in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors can learn more about the Loess Hills at the Loess Hills Sate Forest Visitors Center in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Within the state park there is a camp ground and an overlook not that far away. And trails can lead visitors through the area to enjoy the outdoors and experience a phenomenon that is only found in Iowa and a part of China. Plus getting the chance to enjoy the outdoors on a nice day by yourself or with friends and communing with nature, which is something we all should probably embrace.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Loess Hills State Forest Visitors Center gives a background about the Loess Hills is found in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Livin’ the Dream in Siouxland, Beresford, SD

25 May

A room full of tempting items are seen in the Remember When …. Antiques business during the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Siouxland covers a region in western Iowa, southeastern South Dakota and northeast Nebraska. A variety of people with a variety of reasons call the area home. The area was traversed decades ago by the members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition exploring the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase, and later settlers began arriving to create a new home for themselves. And is some ways, calling the area home hasn’t changed. And one man or woman’s treasure is another’s junk.

Sue and Allen Smith moved to the Beresford area in South Dakota after retiring from jobs out west in a warmer climate. This area of the midwest is not for the faint of heart. The open prairie can be brutally cold during the winter months with 30-40 mph wind gusts and temps reaching well below a -15 degrees. And storms come through in the spring and summer months. Fall can be nice though.

The couple opened an antique store, Remember When …. Antiques, and they have a plethora of items for folk to look at. And they genuinely like the area, not to mention that they can find a lot of items for their store within an easy commute of where they live and work.

Sue Smith, foreground, and husband Allen prepare for another day at their antique and treasures “Remember When….Antiques” business seen during the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

The two seemed undaunted by the weather and invited some cold pedestrians visiting their small community into their store for a cup of coffee and a little warm up on a cold, snowy and blustery day in late April. Winter had not yet departed and clung to the area like a wet blanket leaving an adventurous class outing a bit more chilled than anticipated. Walking through the store was like walking back in time. Seeing items that I remember as a child growing up and seen in grandparents’ homes.

A room full of tempting items are seen in the Remember When …. Antiques business during the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s fascinating to look at items see a progression through the decades of what came before compared to what is available now. it helps give one a perspective and a bit of a history lesson if one takes the time to look at the items and ask questions and find that life in some ways is really not so bad after all these days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A wedding gown and the bride’s photograph attached in a room full of tempting items seen in the Remember When …. Antiques business during the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter and Spring Effects in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

13 May

The Vermillion River seen along the bike path near Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Vermillion River near Cotton park flooded earlier this spring as seen from debris left in trees along the bank. This river and other waterways flooded when a still frozen snow-covered ground couldn’t absorb rain that fell in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On an outing in Vermillion, SD with a Lifelong Learning class in photography that I teach we ventured along the Vermillion River that runs below Vermillion, SD. It’s like a lot of other rivers and normally provides a nice walk on a bike path near a park in the community. I have visited this walking a path a few times and I was struck by some fundamental changes, like sand being scooped off the walkways so people could pass through. This I guess occurred when the river ran high with rains and the ground still frozen from winter last spring. In only a couple of days or more sand was swept from the riverbed and deposited outside of the banks. But it will take more time to return the sand that accumulated.

Photo Safari students from Western Iowa Tech walk along the bike path near Cotton Park that was cleared of sand from a flooding Vermillion River seen in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Erosion of the bank of the Vermillion River along the bike path near Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One can also see new erosion from the rushing river water and how eventually it will affect paths that run alongside it and provide enjoyment and a respite for locals. Nature can be beautifully destructive at times. I was also amazed at how high some river detritus I saw along the path as the water spread out of its banks and ran high.

 

A wooden bridge gives a good vantage point at Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And that’s what I like about visiting and revisiting local areas because they change. Sometimes changes that we as people don’t find beneficial but for me it’s the exploring and looking and just being outside finally with warmer temperatures even though nature sometimes reminds us that we are just along for the ride.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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