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Waukee City staff members recently listened to presentations at Grant Ragan Elementary about stormwater management, pollution and pollinators. This was the culmination of an ongoing partnership between Katie Johnson’s second grade class and Waukee Stormwater Coordinator Jenny Corkrean. Waukee Parks & Recreation Director Matt Jermier also worked with the class to incorporate neighboring Fox Creek Park into the curriculum. Having started the project off in the fall of 2017 by releasing Monarch butterflies in the park, Johnson said it has been an important unit to teach.
“In a world that is ever changing, it is my hope and dream that my students are inspired to be a catalyst for change,” said Johnson. “I believe that this happens with learning that is inquiry-based, authentic and student driven. This project is important because it tells students that what they think, say and do matters. This coupled with the unrelenting passion that kids are capable of making a difference is what creating global citizens is all about.”
Fox Creek Park was intentionally designed with an emphasis on prairie grasses, wildflowers and stormwater management. Since releasing butterflies, which pollinate the nearby plants, the students became interested in the whole park ecosystem and how it affects the world overall. Using critical-thinking, problem-solving, creativity and collaboration, the teams of four students aimed to answer questions about what could happen if prairie plants went away due to factors such as pollution and the diminishing of natural resources.
“It was really great to see the connections that the classmates made to the chain involved with keeping water clean,” said Waukee Stormwater Coordinator Corkrean. “They did a great job with their poster preparation and presentations. Mrs. Johnson is a wonderful teacher who helps the children make these real-world connections.”
Teams spent time researching and creating story boards that are now laminated and placed in Fox Creek Park as a way to change the narrative about prairie plants.
“These students will assist us with carrying the important message of conservation,” said Parks & Recreation Director Matt Jermier. “With their help to educate residents and visitors, our parks will continue to be clean and safe, and they will provide an educational experience as well.”
The students’ posters will remain in the western end of Fox Creek Park through June 3, 2018. Members of the public are welcome to stop by and learn about natural resources, prairie life, Monarch butterflies, bees and pollution prevention.