This blog post was written by ILF summer intern Sara Sloan. Sloan graduated from ISU in May with a degree in Environmental Science and is completing her second summer internship with ILF.
We started the day with our outdoor classroom activity focusing on watersheds. After defining a watershed, we helped students find the name of their hometown watershed, which was fun because they were from all around the state and tested our knowledge of the state. Next we gave students pieces of land and imaginary money to build whatever they want.
After the students have drawn their dream property, the pieces of land are arranged on posters to form a watershed. We then ask the students how the water in the watershed might have changed since they all moved in and developed the land. Discussing pollutants of individuals and the cumulative affect in one watershed brings personal awareness and responsibility to the students.
Next we turned to the topic of soil, because the quality of our water in Iowa is directly connected to the quality of the soil and how we as humans use the land. The Conservation Station’s Rainfall Simulator is one of the easiest ways to show how humans impact soil and water quality. It also shows soil acting as a natural filter for pollutants.
Because the kids were so great we decided they deserved a tasty soil treat. Inside the Station’s learning lab we built the soil profile with M&Ms (bedrock), crushed Oreos (subsoil), chocolate pudding (topsoil), sprinkles (microorganisms), coconut (residue cover), and gummy worms (earthworms). With this tasty snack we discussed the origin of Iowa’s rich topsoil and the important organisms that live in our soil and the roles they play.
After taking their Conservation Pack pledge and receiving t-shirts the campers thanked us with one of their favorite songs where they peeled an orange, went bananas, tipped a cow (in the photo), among others. They also invited us to check out their lake and to stay for lunch. We’re so grateful for a good day at camp despite the heat!