Over four sessions in January and February, Prairie Rivers of Iowa Watershed Educator Dan Haug spoke with 20 retirees for an Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning (OLLI) class at the Iowa State University Alumni Center. In addition to unpacking difficult topics like the Clean Water Act and water monitoring, Dan introduced the class to online resources he uses to find out about water quality in local rivers and lakes and about land use and soils in their watersheds. The class brought back examples and asked questions about rivers, lakes, and drinking water in their home towns and vacation spots, giving us all a better picture of water quality issues and solutions around the state.

Retirees learning about difficult topics like the Clean Water Act.

On February 7-9, high school students from Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma attended a training on the Iowa State University campus for the 4-H Ag Innovators Experience sponsored by Bayer and the National 4-H Council. By training teenage facilitators to lead activities at their 4-H clubs, schools or community events, the program has helped over 5000 youth learn about monarch butterflies and native bees in previous years. This year, the focus is on ecosystem services, water quality, nitrogen and engineered conservation practices. The youth will be learning about bioreactors, saturated buffers, bioswales and rain gardens. Watershed Educator Dan Haug helped the planning team at ISU Extension create a hands-on activity to show how rain gardens can soak up runoff, as well as creating maps that the youth will use for a simulated watershed planning exercise. At the training, Dan shared his experience working with real-life watershed management authorities and worked with the teen leaders in the computer lab to track down information on their own watersheds. This is a far-reaching project with input from a great group of educators and water experts. We were happy to be a part of it!

A hands-on activity for high schoolers to show how rain gardens can soak up runoff.