Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD21 Ross Evelsizer – NE IA RCD

RWD #21 Ross Evelsizer – NE Iowa RCD


Ross Evelsizer is the Natural Resource Projects Director for NE Iowa RC&D (Resource Conservation & Development) – a Decorah native, avid outdoorsman, husband, Dad, and even a part time chef! But the heart of Ross’s work is in the form of projects that focus on the health of our region’s watersheds, through many channels obvious, and less obvious.

Ross’s work has most recently been recognized through a 2022 “New Voices in Water Quality Award” from ISU Extension and Outreach’s Conservation Learning Group. The award celebrates the commitment to advancing conversations, taking action and advocating for water quality improvements that benefit all Iowans.


“Each of these individuals was nominated by peers and recognized for their efforts, achievements and passion for improving and restoring water quality,” said Jacqueline Comito, Conservation Learning Group program director with ISU Extension and Outreach.


Evelsizer’s contributions to protecting and improving Northeast Iowa’s waters are wide-ranging. He has facilitated watershed and landscape resiliency planning for the Turkey, Upper Iowa, and Wapsipinicon watersheds, leading to the installation of dozens of best management practices that have reduced the impact of flooding and improved water quality in the region. He has also been instrumental in helping Northeast Iowa farmers expand their agricultural production through multi-cropping, working with growers to implement cropping systems that protect soil heath, reduce flooding, and improve water quality while expanding market opportunities by planting and harvesting multiple crops from the same field in the same growing season. 

These contributions are not only valuable for the long vision of NE Iowa’s agriculture systems, but for the sustainability and well being of everyone who lives in our region.


Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation & Development works with partners from throughout our region to explore natural resource based economic development opportunities while at the same time protecting and enhancing natural resources. Their mission is to “recognize opportunities and provide leadership to make Northeast Iowa a vibrant, place-based model for the nation!”

A huge thanks to Ross for sharing his time with us for this show – and for his continued work to make NE Iowa an even better place to live, work, and play.


Learn more:

NE Iowa RCD: https://northeastiowarcd.org/

New Voices in Water Quality awards: https://newvoicesinwater.org/

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD20 Birgitta Meade – Jean Young and The Decorah Impact Crater

On this episode of “Rhymes with Decorah”, we tell the incredible story of geologist Jean Young and the discovery of the Decorah Impact Crater. Long time educator and NE Iowa native Birgitta Meade joins us to tell the story of Jean, who she also called a friend, right up to her passing in 2010. We dedicate this episode to all those who are willing to follow a hunch in life, and take action in their beliefs, no matter what others may say. 


Jean Young was indeed, a “character” – a well educated geologist, regarded local artist, and fan of dragons. Jean was also a founding member of the Oneota Coop, served as a board member of Ryumonji Zen Center, and lived a simple, but fascinating life surrounded by rocks!  While many locals likely found Jean’s eccentricities and lifestyle a bit out of place in NE Iowa, Jean had many friends and her scientific hunches were something of absolute genius. Jean’s work in discovering the Decorah Crater could very easily have never happened – and we are all the benefactors of it.


Flowers And Falling Hearts, by Jean Young

In 2004-2005 a team including Jean Young, Robert McKay and H Paul Liu from the Iowa Geological Survey helped discover the Decorah Impact Crater – and particularly the ancient layer of shale (The Winneshiek Shale) that would provide some incredible geologic discoveries.

470 million years ago, the eastern edge of what is now Decorah was hit by a 650-foot meteorite. At that time, much of North America, including what is now Iowa, was covered in ancient oceans, and it was sediment from those oceans that filled in the crater basin creating layers of shale.

It was these layers of shale that led to the discovery of the meteor crater by citizen geologist and artist Jean Young. One of Jean’s jobs over the years was studying well-drillings for the state of Iowa to help present information on the most efficient (water) well locations. It was within these samples from around the Decorah area that she started noticing unusual patterns – including shale – which should not have geographically been there in comparison to the surrounding area. After contacting friends and acquaintances at the Iowa Geological Survey Jean’s hunch proved correct – that the shale layer represented an impact crater below the surface of Decorah.

Eventually the Iowa Geological Survey mapped the samples, outlining the crater’s basin. Scientists tested the layer of material underneath the crater for shocked quartz (shattered crystals) and conducted rock density and electromagnetic aerial surveys, confirming the impact structure.  



Not only did the shale layer confirm the impact crater, but to everyone’s great surprise, the layer also held incredible fossils – many of which had never been seen before and entirely different from the surrounding geography. The most incredible of these discoveries (so far) is Pentecopterus Decorahensis, a six-foot-long sea scorpion that pre-dated the oldest known sea scorpion by 10,000 years.


Pentecopterus rendering by Patrick Lynch, Yale University

To get at the fossils, inconveniently located underneath the Upper Iowa River, scientists temporarily diverted the river from the excavation site, recovering more than 5,000 specimens, including plants, shrimp-like animals, and the oldest known fossils of jawless fish. These discoveries have led to new insights into what life was like during the Ordovician period, and all because of Jean Young’s hunch.

Birgitta and others are in the early stages of documenting Jean’s work in the discovery of the impact crater, and are already working to share this story and the science behind it with children and adults across the region through presentations and information. The group hopes to have a full website in the future with information, additional discoveries, and more. 

You can visit this page for more information on the basics of the Decorah Impact Crater or a more in depth 2015 article from the Iowa Science Interface. We would like to offer a sincere thank you to Birgitta Meade for helping tell the story of Jean Young and this incredible discovery in our region. 

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD19 Chris Johnson – Vesterheim Museum


Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum has roots that go back to the 1800s and a collection of artifacts that was first formed at Luther College in Decorah. Those items became the roots for what is now the most extensive collection of Norwegian American Artifacts (33,000 and counting!) in the World.


On today’s show, we talk with Vesterheim President and CEO Chris Johnson about the old and new of Vesterheim, as well as his roots to NE Iowa and life long connections to Decorah.


Norway’s US Ambassador Kåre Aas & Vesterheim’s Chris Johnson

Vesterheim encompasses not just an amazing collection of artifacts though, it is also home to a beautiful outdoor campus, an amazing Folk Art School with classes for all ages, a research library and archive. Simply put, Vesterheim is not just a museum or destination, but a community of members from across the World who recognize the immigrant experience and importance of immigrant stories to our culture.


The “Strong Roots, Bold Future” Campaign has been the work and vision of many involved with Vesterheim to continue making not only a fantastic destination, but also re-think how Vesterheim can continue to reach new audiences near and far through online programming, and interactive opportunities. The five pillars of the campaign include:

– Grow the campus around a new, world-class gathering and exhibit addition;

– Connect the historic collection with contemporary art and social movements;

– Expand the digital reach of the folk art / collection, enrichment opportunities;

– Engage audiences from near and far, and of every background searching for meaningful cultural experiences;

– Draw people together into community, both in person and virtually to share stories of their journeys.

Exciting outcomes of this project have already included the reconstruction of Vesterheim’s outdoor campus as “Heritage Park” – a beautiful outdoor setting connecting the historic structures of the campus. And the new “Vesterheim Commons” building which will act as the new “front door” and meeting place to the Museum and so much more.


We can’t thank Chris enough for taking the time talk with us today to share his stories and vision for Vesterheim.

Find out more about Vesterheim, see virtual galleries, class offerings, become a member, or donate and support the museum by visiting vesterheim.org

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD #18 Good Dog Center – Carmen Hurley and Ann Grimstad


The Good Dog Center, located just north of Decorah, started as the dream of two friends – Carmen Hurley and Beth Einck – and a leap of faith into creating a business to not only train dogs, but build a community of “dogs and their people” from across the region.

Good Dog Center’s Carmen Hurley after a great day in the ring!

Over the years, Beth moved on to retirement (as planned) and long-time GDC students and training professional Julie Wittry and Ann Grimstad joined the roster to offer additional classes and services. It wasn’t long before the business outgrew its space on Short Street in Decorah, as dog ownership and training interest continued to increase. Carmen recruited Pam Long, a friend and professional trainer from Atlanta, Georgia with 40+ years of experience, to move to Iowa and help with the expanded services. Ellen Drewes Stoen, Vicki Armstrong, Shirley Richards, and others rounded out the teaching staff as interest grew.

Only half of Carmen’s Furry Family showing off their ribbons.

The group began looking for a space in the Decorah area that was large enough to accommodate two regulation-sized obedience rings, room for grooming, retail, boarding, and more. The former Nob Hill Supper Club north of Decorah offered an attractive location on a hard surfaced road with ample green space, as well as abundant indoor space to meet the needs, and the group decided it was a perfect fit. In keeping with the history of Nob Hill – nods to the former occupant abound at the “Pupper Club”, even with the occasional “Yappy Hour”!


The Grimstad Pups show off their loot!

Learn about our friends at the Good Dog Center and all that they provide for four legged friends near and far on this episode!


“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD17 Kristen Underwood – Luther College Center Stage Series


Kristen Underwood has called Decorah home for decades, but found her way to the upper Midwest from the San Francisco Bay Area as a professional actor and creative. It was a chance performance with the actor and Commonweal Theatre founder Eric Bunge that led her to Lanesboro, MN, where Kristen spent a decade acting professionally.


Her connections to Luther College came in multiple ways through this time, both with guest faculty and directors, as well as opportunities to interact with fledgling actors in the region through her own Upstart Crow Theatreworks company, and as a co-founder of ArtHaus in Decorah. Little did Kristen know that a couple decades later Luther would present her with the opportunity as Director of Campus Programming, and the Luther College Center Stage Series.


The 2022-23 Luther College Center Series kicks off in September 2022, with a series of 6 professional touring shows at the Luther College Center for Faith and Life. 

September 22, 2022 – Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass
October 13, 2022 – Jaerv + The OK Factor
October 24, 2022 – The Lightning Thief (School Performance)
November 5, 2022 – Ailey II (Dance)
February 9, 2023 – Ladama (World Vocal Quartet)
March 31, 2023 – Empire Wild (Riveting Trio)
April 4, 2023 – The Ugly Duckling (School Performance)
April 15, 2023 – Gravity & Other Myths: A Simple Space
(Physical theatre)

Subscribe to all 6 shows and save %15 off!

Call 563-387-1357



Thank you to Kristen for all of the creative energy and light that she brings to our region through the performing arts and beyond!


“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD#16 Nordic Fest 22 – Alyssa Ritter & Brian Solberg


Nordic Fest was started in 1967 by a dedicated group of Decorah civic leaders and volunteers to celebrate the spirit of community and spotlight the town’s connections to Scandinavian heritage. For over 55 years, it has served as the high mark of Summer in Decorah, welcoming visitors from across the world to Water Street to experience our community. This sense of volunteerism and community pride are what keep Nordic Fest alive each year for all to enjoy.


On this episode we feature Alyssa Ritter, Past President, and Brian Solberg, 2022 Nordic Fest President for a conversation on what it takes to make The Fest happen, favorite activities, food, memories, and looking forward. 


From street food, to performers of many traditions, “Sporting” events, a Viking encampment at Vesterheim Museum (and much more), Scandinavian arts & crafts – and the less “traditional” – Nordic Fest offers a great, family friendly environment to enjoy.

Find the full schedule by picking up the official Nordic Fest Program and Button ($5) at the Decorah Chamber of Commerce, or by looking online.

Velkommen til Decorah – ALL DIRECTIONS POINT NORSE!


Listen to this episode to get the full story behind this “poem” given to Benji during an interview with Ernest “Pokey Pete” Peterson for Inspire(d) Magazine


“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD#15 Kristin Eggen – Decorah Farmers Market Manager


(Kristin Eggen, Photo by Charlie Langton)


Farmers Market season is just hitting it’s stride as we record this episode of “Rhymes With Decorah” with special guest Kristin Eggen. Kristin has been the Decorah Farmers Market Manager since 2020, but was a part of the Market community years before that! In fact, it was the power of a ukulele and the will to share her musical endeavors with a Market crowd that originally connected her to the scene.

After graduating from College at UW Stevens Point, Kristin connected with a friend who was a member of Green Iowa Americorps, working with the Winneshiek Energy District. Through a chance opportunity, she connected to an open position and finally found herself coming back to NE Iowa and Decorah!

When Kristin received the opportunity to take the reigns in 2020 from long time Market manager Steve McCargar, she jumped at the opportunity – even realizing the challenges that may come, and has ran with the opportunities.


Over the years the Market has grown and flourished through the hard work of vendors, customers, and of course managers – from adding electronic payment methods and supporting WIC and other programs for senior citizens, the Market has worked to be as accessible and inclusive as possible.

But of course a Market is only as good as its products – and our region is incredibly fortunate to have goods from so many high quality farmers and producers. Market season is just hitting it’s peak, so don’t delay – Wednesdays from 3-6pm, and Saturdays from 8-11am, in the parking lot behind the Oneota Coop.

Thanks to Kristin for all her work to help make our market such a fun and great place to shop for local goods.


(Josh Dansdill, Kristin Eggen, Brad Crawford, photo by Charlie Langton)

Find out more about the Decorah Farmers Market:




“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD#14 Michelle Lynn of Savvy History


Michelle, of Savvy History, or Michelle Lynn as many of us have known her over the past several years is a writer, musician, educator, presenter, and one of the main influences of how “Rhymes With Decorah” got started! It’s true – but you’ll have to listen to this show to hear that story!

Michelle grew up on a century farm here in NE Iowa, found her way musically to the guitar, and started writing songs as a teenager. That love of music found her playing across the region as a young musician, and eventually moving to Austin, TX before returning to NE Iowa and meeting her future husband. Five albums later, and a lot of life experience, Michelle realized her passions could also help shape the lives of young people as an educator, while pursuing her writing, and growing a family! These opportunities have lead to opportunities in online teaching and mentoring young people across the country, all from her home here in Decorah.

Savvy History is the creation that has housed much of Michelle’s melding of old and new work in writing. A lifelong interest in biographies helped spur some of the concepts of Savvy History, along with her studies in Creative Psychology, history, and a love of telling those stories through writing and music.

One of the series that Michelle worked on through her blog was the “First Creative Dollar”, profiling figures from Frederick Douglas and Louisa May Alcott, to Rachel Carson, and the cult fan favorite painter Bob Ross (their stories are all fantastic!).


Along the way she quit Social Media entirely for 6 years – and eventually found her way back on her terms. You can hear that story on the show, and also read about it on the Savvy History Blog.

We’d like to thank Michelle for not only being a guest on the show, but for also planting the seed that this show should be a reality – a true example of the power of people talking and sharing ideas in a small community.

Find our more about Michelle and her work:




*You can catch Michelle live on Thursday July 7th (2022) as part of Decorah’s Lawn Chair Night – Live on Washington Street series – 5:30pm, Washington Street, just outside of Impact Coffee.


“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming


Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD#13 Adam Wiltgen – Arts in Community / Anderson Center


Adam Wiltgen is a Harmony, MN native who’s work in connecting communities through the arts spans our greater region. Currently, Adam and his family live in Red Wing (MN) where he is the Program Director at the Anderson Center at Tower View, and also a member of the City of Red Wing’s Arts & Culture Commission.

One of the things that we’ve learned in creating a regional publication for almost 15 years, is that it takes a lot of actual hard work and creativity to make rural places shine. Artistic endeavors and fostering creative community are often at the heart of what makes an authentic feeling community, and Adam’s work across our region in the past decade has absolutely been in helping places weave that creative fabric.

Join us as we talk about some of the projects that Adam has been involved in over the years – from the transitional days of KPVL Radio, to guiding the programming and being part of the creative team at Lanesboro Arts that continued the work of making this SE Minnesota gem not just a tourist destination, but a living arts “campus”. Through his work, Adam has also had the opportunity to be a part of larger national and international conversations that showcase the importance of the arts in communities.


In his roll at the Anderson Center at Tower View in Red Wing, Adam is also a key team member in not only helping events and programming happen at and around the historic campus, but also fostering the Center’s artists-in-residence program.

The Anderson Center serves creative people of all kinds – writers, poets, visual artists, sculptors, composers, dancers, archaeologists, anthropologists, scholars, and others. The interdisciplinary nature of the Center inspires creative dialogue among the disciplines and places the Center at the forefront of thoughtful exchange.

Since 2014, the historic venue has also been home to the Deaf Artist Residency Program at the Anderson Center – helping create artistic and organizational networks that support the development of the Deaf Arts as a distinct cultural area within the larger context of American Culture. Founded by local Deaf Artist and activist Cynthia Weitzel, the program has grown since its inception in 2014. With the addition of the 2022 cohort, the Deaf Artist Residency Program has connected and supported 28 artists. The Deaf Artists Residency Program is supported in part through an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and partnerships with Gallaudet University and Deaf Spotlight.



In addition to 20 on-site artist studios, the Center offers a black-and-white equipped dark room, an outdoor kiln, glass blowing studio, blacksmith shop, printmaking facilities, and a press-in-residence.



The Red Wing Area Studio Tour will take place July 30-31, 2022. See the work of 36 Artists across 12 locations around the Red Wing area while exploring all that the historic town offers. The tour is a collaborative effort of Red Wing Arts and the Anderson Center, with a community reception on Saturday evening, July 30 from 6-8 pm with live music and refreshments on the Anderson Center’s recently renovated Rooftop Deck.

We graciously thank Adam for taking the time to talk with us for this show, and for the work that he and many others do to support the arts across the many communities of our region.





“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD#12 Summer Inspire(d) 2022 – Aryn Henning Nichols


The “Summer 2022” issue of Inspire(d) Magazine “With Intention…” is on stands now and special guest, and editor-in-chief Aryn Henning Nichols joins us to talk all things Inspire(d)! We look forward to making these quarterly (or more often!?) chats about the new print issues of the magazine and all that goes into creating each issue. 


Topics that we cover:

– Dad Jokes

– Summer!

– The beautiful cover image and feature on artist Lauren Bonney

– Community Builders: Maryann Baldwin, Stephanie Fromm, and Terri Wolfram (aka The Paperback Rider!)

– Linda Tacke’s recumbent bike ride across America

– Sum of Your Biz feature: Country View Dairy

– Starlite 14 Drive In – Richland Center

– Dyersville Daytrip!

– Fireflies!!!

– Probituary: Viola Linderbaum


You can read the Summer 2022 Issue of Inspire(d) online here.



Big shout out to the USPS in Decorah who helps us reach some of our far away distribution locations across the region! 


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