Fire, Soil & Byways

In Celebration of Iowa's celebration of Soil and Water Conservation Week, I decided to discuss the prairie burns Penny, John and I saw while in Kansas. The three of us traveled to Kansas to attend the Heartland Byways Conference in Manhattan, and while at the conference had the chance to take a tour of the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway.   I was surprised to see the fire so close to the road when we were traveling on the byway. The above image shows one instance where we saw the fire approaching. Our bus and other drivers had to pull over at one point to let the fire move through. The monitoring and safety measures that were put into place were great, and it was amazing to see the fire so close.   So what does fire have to do with Soil and Water Conservation Week? Prairies have a long-standing history of healthy soil and a need for burning and grazing to keep soil full...
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Preserving and Protecting Our Water Resources

In honor of National Water and Soil Conservation Week, Kids on the Byway is dedicating this blog post to one of their partner programs, Upper Iowa University's Environmental Issues Instruction course.  EII is a graduate level course dedicated to teachers and other personnel that addresses how to teach environmental issues for grades K-12.  They do this with the following teaching model:  With this teaching model, the class is able to address multiple environmental issues every year and connect with Next Generation Science Standards as well as the Iowa Core.  This year's issue was focused on preserving and protecting our water resources. According to the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions, "Although much of the discussion about climate change impacts has focused on increases in temperatures and the rise in sea level, changes that impact our nation's water resources could have the greatest impact on society" (2011).   According to the Department of Natural Resources, the major water quality problem in Iowa in nonpoint source pollution,...
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School gardens compost project at Kate Mitchell

Below is a press release from Ames Community School District regarding the school gardens compost project. Mitchell Elementary School Earth Week waste sort/compost project AMES–In celebration of Earth Day, Mitchell Elementary School’s Student Council members are working through much of the month of April to coordinate a school-wide compost project with the help of AmeriCorps VISTAs through the Volunteer Center of Story County. A project of the Kate Mitchell Elementary School Garden, this Earth Week waste sort/compost celebration provides students with hands-on learning experiences that bring to life their core learning in school. After lunch each day, Mitchell fourth and fifth grade classes weigh all the discarded food and chart the categories of waste. The students use their math skills to convert pounds of waste to kilograms. They discuss waste reduction methods such as recycling, reusing, vermicomposting, and others. Mitchell 5th grade teacher Allison Martens-Noll said, “I’m excited to see how we can relate our results in the lunchroom to the classroom with graphing and...
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“Disrupting the pink aisle and inspiring the future generation of female engineers”

Goldiebox is a toy company that has developed a set of interactive games and toys that will change how parents will buy toys for their children.  CEO Debbie Sterling was disappointed in the female representation in her engineering program at Stanford which is why she developed Goldiebox.  She hopes that by providing girls with toys that spark inventiveness and a different way of playing that silly gender stereotypes are just that, silly gender stereotypes. Watch this Goldibox advertisement that says it all....
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Searching for Gold

With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner, many people are turning their attention to all things green. The same is always true here at Prairie Rivers of Iowa. We are all green when it comes to conservation and natural resources. We are also looking for those with some gold or green to partner with us to continue to move our mission forward to help our communities with natural resources and conservation. Are you willing to help us? Giving is easy through Dwolla. Also, if you are on a nature hike this next week and curious about how to find a four-leaf clover, here is a helpful how-to: http://www.wikihow.com/Find-a-Four-Leaf-Clover ...
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Lobby for Byways

Lobby for Byways

In January we were busy getting ready to speak to our state legislators. After the Travel Federation of Iowa's Legislative Showcase, we attended Transportation Day at the Capitol. As a byway manager, we felt it was important to explain the importance of byways and the need for additional funding. We set up an Iowa Byways display with some of the other byway managers inside of the capitol rotunda and we were able to educate people about the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway and the unique features byways have to offer. We attended the Transportation Day briefing at the Wallace Building which was a great event to hear a number of people speak and lobby for an increase in funding for Iowa's roads. We were able to hear from the director of the Iowa Department of Transportation, Paul Trombino. There are many roads and bridges in disrepair throughout the state and the increased funding would help with some of the most critical issues...
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Byway Promotion

Byway Promotion

We are looking forward to an active and exciting 2014 on the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway! On Tuesday, January 28th, the Travel Federation of Iowa hosted a Legislative Showcase for our state representatives. All of Iowa's 11 byways were represented with byway managers from as far away as Postville, IA, attending the showcase. Representatives and byway coordinators across the state came to Des Moines to put together a display booth to speak with our state representatives and encourage support for travel and byways. Given the other 4 legislative events that night, there was a great turnout of legislators. A total of 83 of the 150 legislators were present at the showcase.   Please see below for more information on 2014 travel priorities and statistics. 2014 TFI Priorities: http://www.travelfederationofiowa.org/files/2014_TFI_Priorities.pdf 2014 TFI Fast Facts: http://www.travelfederationofiowa.org/files/2014_TFI_Fast_Facts.pdf  ...
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Prairie Rivers of Iowa Top 10

It's all about love this month. Here's the Top 10 Things to love about Prairie Rivers: 10. As a non-profit, donations are 100% tax-deductible. 9. The Staff and Board of Directors are 100% committed to moving the mission forward. 8. Kids programming is some of the best around bringing experts from the community to educate the young about conservation. 7. The only Iowa grown and manufactured white oak log cabins in the state committed to helping people build the highest-quality log products, while enduring environmentally-responsible building practices. 6. Bringing history to life through the Kids on the Byway program with the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway. 5. Keep Calm & Hug a Tree - our Urban Forester helps three growing communities with the supplies and tools to best manage their forest resources. 4. Eat your fruits and veggies! It's all about healthy foods - working with numerous local farmers and community partners to develop school and community gardens and community education about eating healthy. 3. The Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway is...
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Getting Kids Excited About Science

According to a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 30 percent of parents with children in kindergarten through fifth grade say that their child's school put too little emphasis on science curricula. There is a need in science education today to "spark learning" and genuine curiosity in young students. Students feel forced to understand and memorize facts instead of figuring out the reason why the answer is that answer. This ignorance of science is one of the main reasons why the Next Generation of Science Standards was developed.  NGSS is a "multi-state effort to create new education standards that are "rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education."  Minnesota teacher Mary Colson, a contributor to the development of the new standards, said that the standards aim to get the students thinking more like a scientist.  Other efforts...
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Prairie Rivers of Iowa Launches Dwolla

2014 is a New Year with new initiatives and opportunities for many organizations and this is true for Prairie Rivers of Iowa. Beginning in 2014, Prairie Rivers of Iowa will partner with Dwolla to provide partners with an electronic payment option. This payment option will be available for donations and eventually for online product purchasing. Dwolla is a cash-based payment network that provides real-time, low cost, online and mobile payments. Instead of charging a percentage-based fee for goods and services that you purchase, they charge a flat $0.25 on any transaction over $10, while anything $10 and under is free. Better yet, Dwolla was created and is based right down the road in Des Moines! Why use Dwolla? Stop writing checks Easily (and securely) donate to your favorite non-profit online Your banking information remains confidential and is not transferred or released   How do I sign up and make a payment? Go to www.prrcd.org/donate and make a tax-deductible donation to Prairie Rivers of Iowa.   What if I have questions? Please call us at...
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