When asked to describe my time as an intern with Water Rocks! and Iowa Learning Farms, the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s been a learning experience. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my specific interests within environmental sustainability and natural resource conservation. But with a bit more thought, I think it’s more appropriate to call it an experience in learning.
Everybody has different preferences for learning new things. There’s visual learners and auditory learners, those who learn by observing and those who learn by doing.
One of my favorite things about Water Rocks! and Iowa Learning Farms is that these organizations cater to a variety of different learning preferences. The Water Rocks! music videos help to spread the message of conservation to young audiences by providing fun and catchy sing-along opportunities that kids can enjoy at any hour of the day. The classroom visits and assemblies provide a unique opportunity for students to learn by watching and listening to our educational materials, and then applying their newfound knowledge through trivia questions and team games.
The team’s Conservation Station Fleet is able to reach both urban and rural audiences with our three trailers, which feature examples of ways that any audience member could improve water quality. With our rainfall simulators, we can show the impacts of various tillage practices on water drainage and quality. Our on-the-edge trailer shows how two of the newest edge-of-field practices work (bioreactors and saturated buffers). Lastly, our Enviroscape and poo toss games help us to show kids of all ages what they can do to improve the quality of their neighborhoods and watersheds.
The past few weeks with Water Rocks! and Iowa Learning Farms have helped me to see that the best way for me to learn is by teaching others. But that task can’t be done alone – it requires a team of passionate individuals to work together in order to spread our message across the state of Iowa.
Working with a cohort of seven other interns (in addition to all of the full-time staff members) has been a rewarding and interesting experience. From watching a saturated buffer installation in eastern Iowa to digging a fellow intern out of a mucky mess, I can confidently say that no two days on the job have been the same!
And with each new day, I learn new things about myself, my teammates, and what we can do to improve the quality of the world we live in. Above all, I’ve learned that it takes a strong team to be able to go out and teach the public about our initiatives. I’m thankful for all that I’ve learned so far this summer and am excited to continue to add more knowledge as I approach the last month of this internship!
Becca Wiarda is participating in the 2019 Water Resources Internship Program at Iowa State University. Wiarda grew up near Ackley and is a senior in Agricultural Business and Finance with minors in sustainability and agronomy.