CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – It’s uncommon to see cows, pigs or goats in the middle of a city, but at Old MacDonald’s Farm in Cedar Rapids, that’s exactly what visitors can expect to find.
Once a county zoo, Old MacDonald’s Farm has transformed into an educational urban farm that promotes visitors getting up close and personal with farm animals in the middle of the city.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach recently worked with the Cedar Rapids Parks Department, which manages the farm, to create an interactive scavenger hunt for a summer “County Fair” event.
Liz Hansen, a senior dietetics major who interned last summer at the farm, worked with Courtney Long, extension local foods program coordinator, and Ann Torbert, extension 4-H youth program specialist, to design the scavenger hunt and information booth. They featured state universities and their curricula established for programs relating to all things health and food systems.
“We wanted to make an interactive handout that would lead visitors and their families to explore the farm and learn about healthy living along the way,” said Hansen.
At each of the scavenger hunt’s stations, the kids learned the answers to questions about either the farm’s history or an aspect of healthy living. Kids in two age brackets (grades K–4 and 5 -12) tried out yoga, tasted a healthy summer snack and brought home some relaxation tips. At the end of the hunt the kids picked up a prize donated by Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa and University of Iowa.
“We were surprised by how many kids completed their scavenger hunts,” said Hansen. “By the end of the day, we had given out over 500 scavenger hunt handouts, and we were completely out of prizes.”
The farm’s next big event will be a Harvest Fest on Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., featuring hayrack rides, a tractor pull and apple bobbing. More information about the farm, including upcoming events, can be found at http://www.cedar-rapids.org/residents/parks_and_recreation/old_macdonald....
Liz Hansen, Iowa State senior in dietetics, firstname.lastname@example.org