Ames, Iowa – The Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach conservation and water quality education programs Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) and Water Rocks! debuted Marsh Madness, the fourth public education platform in their fleet of Conservation Station trailers. Attended by leaders and experts in conservation and water quality, the launch event held May 27, 2021, culminated in the christening of the Marsh Madness trailer by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Naig, with a bottle of champagne.
In his opening remarks at the celebration, Daniel Robison, dean of the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, recognized the tremendous contributions of support and funding from the partners and agencies that enable ILF and Water Rocks! programs, including the creation and ongoing development of the Conservation Stations. He also reminded the audience of every Iowan’s responsibility to each other, stating, “In this great state of Iowa our beautiful landscapes and waterscapes sustain us, they are the reasons why we are here, and therefore it is our obligation to help sustain them.”
Conservation Station Marsh Madness focuses on wetlands education and outreach, featuring three 3-D museum-quality interactive models that demonstrate the unique landscape placement and hydrology of different wetland types in Iowa, as well as a full sensory immersion learning lab with images, sounds, 3-D plants/animals, and floor-to-ceiling artwork.
In his comments to the crowd, Secretary Naig noted the state’s longstanding commitment to programs such as ILF and Water Rocks! and the ongoing importance of outreach and education programs that help Iowans understand the water quality challenges facing the state. “We’ve got a long way to go in achieving our goals around nitrogen, and that’s what this particular trailer we’re talking about today is all about,” said Naig, “trying to move us forward, move us in the right direction on what we can do to remove nitrate from water.”
Kayla Lyon, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, reported that the DNR has been a partner of ILF since its beginnings in 2004 and expressed the pride in her organization being an integral part of launching the Marsh Madness trailer. In highlighting the number of events produced and the hundreds of thousands of Iowans impacted throughout the 14 years of the partnership, Lyon also cast her eyes to the future, noting, “We look forward to future partnerships with ILF as we work together to create a culture of conservation and stewardship in Iowa. And I cannot wait to go to events and see these visual tools in action.”
Naig also remarked about the engaging and visual nature of the trailers, commenting, “What we love about this whole effort of these Conservation Stations is that they’re visually appealing. Seeing is believing; ‘give me a chance to look at it, let me even see how it works.’ And I love the models; I think to watch the water flow through and be able to have that triggered conversation about what that can mean on the landscape is so, so important.”
Conservation Station Marsh Madness will make its premier public appearance at Denmark Heritage Days in Lee County June Fourth. The Conservation Station trailers are fully booked for the 2021 summer season with planned appearances at field days, community celebrations/festivals, fairs, farmers markets, youth camps and school events. Staffed by ISU experts, the Conservation Stations provide a comprehensive learner-centered platform to encourage multi-generational visitors to be active participants in exploring the interconnectedness of the natural resources around them.
To find a Conservation Station appearance in your area, please visit https://www.waterrocks.org/calendar