Updated Big Conservation Station Debuts at Iowa County Fairs

New artwork for joint venture of Water Rocks! and Iowa Learning Farms

July 10, 2018, 2:28 pm | Jacqueline Comito

AMES, Iowa – The freshly updated Big Conservation Station trailer will make its debut this summer at county fairs across the state. The traveling trailer has been outfitted with new mixed media murals produced by artists Cecelia Comito of Artworks Studio in Carroll, Iowa, and Ann Staudt of Water Rocks!, to evoke artistic and forward-looking hopes and dreams for Iowa’s future.

Big Conservation Station trailer.The Big Conservation Station is a joint venture of Water Rocks!, a statewide water education program, and Iowa Learning Farms, a hands-on education and outreach program for farmers throughout Iowa.

Installed in the Conservation Station’s walk-through learning lab, the artwork tells the story of farming and land use in the past and present, and suggests a possible future. The story represents advances in conservation efforts over time, and the potential possibilities as farmers and other Iowans continue to implement effective land management to build soil health, improve water quality and increase wildlife habitat. Conservation is about the future, and visitors are encouraged to artistically respond to the question, “What is your hope for Iowa?”

“When we take the Big Conservation Station to community events such as fairs, our goal is to engage the visitors in thinking long-term about the positive and negative environmental impacts of our land management choices,” said Staudt. “Farming practices have evolved over time, and not always in ways that have been good for the broader ecosystem. We’re presenting folks with a hopeful pathway to a healthier environment in Iowa.”

The Big Conservation Station team employs interactive games like The Watershed Game to draw in kids, but also to engage the parents and grandparents in seeing what happens to water quality when they “make it rain” in the game. The Poo Toss also makes learning about pet waste runoff fun for kids of all ages.

The trailer’s Rainfall Simulator shows visitors the dramatic differences in water infiltration and runoff with side-by-side comparisons of traditional tillage, no-till, cover crops and two urban situations. The proof is in the murky versus clear runoff water collected and the amount of water infiltration that happens.

For more information about Water Rocks! or to request a visit from the Conservation Station, visit www.waterrocks.org. To learn more about Iowa Learning Farms outreach and education programs, or to find out when the Big Conservation Station will be in your area, please visit www.iowalearningfarms.org.

Upcoming Big Conservation Station Trailer Appearances

  • July 11, Cedar County Fair
  • July 12, Calhoun County Fair
  • July 13, Carroll County Fair
  • July 14, Iowa County Fair
  • July 17, Public Radio On Tap, Iowa City
  • July 18, Polk County Fair
  • July 19, Jones County Fair
  • July 20, Tama County Fair
  • July 21, Poweshiek County Fair
  • July 26, Monroe County Fair
  • July 27, Fayette County Fair
  • July 28, Independence Farmers Market
  • Aug. 4, Lakes Area Farmers Market, Spirit Lake
  • Sept. 2, Glow Wild at Jester Park, Granger

About Water Rocks! and Iowa Learning Farms

Water Rocks! is an award-winning statewide water education program that fosters the interplay of knowledge, caring and engagement among Iowa’s youth.

Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation by encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable.

Partners of Water Rocks! and Iowa Learning Farms include Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA Section 319), Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.


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