The Union County Heritage Museum has an annual Pioneer Day, where volunteers come to help young students learn about the history and lifestyle of past generations. Booths set up both inside and outside the museum teach students about the toys, food, work and play that was common during the Pioneer period. Each of these booths are run by local history lovers who give their time to the project to share this passion with schoolchildren. This year several students from Blue Mountain went to participate in the event.
One of the focuses of the Pioneer Day is to let students experience how pioneer children made and played with toys, as well as how they entertained themselves. Throughout the event there are booths dedicated to games, storytelling, and doll making. This was the job of one of the BMCU students, Ana Meredith, while working at the corn husk doll booth. When asked about the best part of her experience, Meredith said, “My best part of the day was interacting with the kids. I learned that kids are so inspirational.” When asked whether she would consider volunteering at Pioneer Day again, she said, “I would definitely [consider it].”
Other booths at the event focus more on the daily life and work which pioneers faced. Several booths had volunteers teaching students about these more demanding elements of pioneer life, included blacksmithing, laundry, cooking, and similar events. One of these was the corn grinding booth, where BMCU student Chandler Wall worked as a volunteer. When asked about the best part of her day, she mentioned, “seeing the children’s faces when I would tell [them] things that they didn’t know like that flour comes from corn. Their faces would just light up like a Christmas tree and that was delightful to see. It made the hours of interaction worth it!”
The experience of working as a volunteer at Pioneer Day is about more than teaching students, however. It is also a time for volunteers to meet and learn from each other, as each come to share their specialties. Wall shares, “there was an older man that was there to be my partner and he kept showing me pictures of beautifully framed photos that he had taken himself and all of the cool history artifacts in his handmade house! I thought it was the coolest thing in the world to [hang] out with such a man as himself!” This perhaps is the true expression of pioneer spirit: learning to appreciate what each individual brings to the group as a whole.