Over the last couple weeks, we’ve hosted the 6th grade “Jr. Naturalist Program” participants from Clayton County Conservation here at Big Spring. In addition to learning some fish biology, geologic history of Iowa, watershed concepts, how a river functions, things that impact water quality, why we have trout streams only in Northeast Iowa, and a number of other miscellaneous things about “Neature”…..the kids get to fish at the kids fishing pond, learn how to clean a fish, and how to grill it! Any other educational program we host here at Big Spring, we always integrate it into the holistic fishing experience.

This program connects a minority of kids to some basic knowledge about the Iowa Landscape that to be honest, most Iowa residents and students never get the opportunity to experience with our current educational system. It got me thinking (which I’ve actually been thinking about for 25 years) about how we could better incorporate some better practical knowledge about the function and history (from a holistic geological, biological, cultural, and agricultural perspective) of the Iowa Landscape into our education system. We have a few local schools that have some small prairies, school gardens, wetland, or adjacent stream or river next to their school or within a short walking distance. Other schools are also doing some very low cost and innovative things. Students from these schools seem to have a far more significant connection and basic knowledge, but there is so much more potential.

I believe that any future funding increases for education should also include a plan to spend a portion of that money to start developing a comprehensive natural resource related program for public schools across Iowa. We could fund it and other school needs as part of funding the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund that Iowa voters overwhelmingly passed as a constitutional amendment in 2010. Inspiration for many students, especially those with ADHD and other learning disabilities is just an inspirational step outside!

What are your thoughts?


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