Super Composters and Super Heros

Week 8

This week was spent composting, creating superheroes, trying new foods, and practicing being calm using glitter.

We started our week on Tuesday morning at the Jane Boyd Community House. The lesson this week was all about composting. We discussed what composting is and how compost can improve the soil of their garden. To show the kids everyday items that can be composted, we made a compost jar that included grass clippings, twigs, soil, leaves, and newspapers. Yup, that’s right, all of these items can be composted! For our snack, we had clementines, which all of the kids loved! Did you know that fruit peels can also be composted? Instead of throwing away their fruit peels, each kid got a chance to add their fruit peel to the compost jar. We asked the kids to make predictions of what they think will happen to the height of the contents in the jar, and many said that the height would decrease. Check back in 2 weeks to see if they are right. We also showed the kids some other items that can be composted, recycled, and items that needed to be thrown away, and then the kids were able to review and test their knowledge in a relay. Each group was split into two teams, and the objective of the relay was to correctly sort their objects into the designated compost, trash, or recycling piles the fastest. Afterward, we reviewed each team’s piles to see how well they did at remembering. The kids had a great time with this activity, and we learned about a lot of objects that can go to other places besides the trash. With our extra time, we headed out to see the garden’s progress and were excited to find that a pepper was starting to grow on one of the plants. The kids explored the garden and were also able to watch as we added some previously made compost to each of the beds.

Wednesday morning, Linn County intern, Abagail, took professional headshots of us in our ISU Extension & Outreach, red polos. We were excited to be the models for her first time taking professional headshots. Over lunch, we traveled to Prairie Creek Intermediate School to hand out Super-U to-go kits at the weekly lunch pick-up. Super-U is an activity where students watch a video explaining the definition of a hero, think about heroes in their own communities, and then design their own superhero that can “fly” down a string. Each of the 200 children that received kits were excited to take them home and get started. Our afternoon was spent preparing activities for Friday and Saturday. We made over 80 glitter jar kits to take to Kids on Course (KOC) University on Friday. Each one was complete with a clear water bottle, glitter, glue, and instructions about how to be mindful. We also got everything gathered for PoP Club on Saturday at the Uptown Marion Market. The activity of the month is creating thumbprint strawberry and apple bookmarks and trying spinach, strawberry, apple salad. Be sure to catch us this Saturday, July 10th at the corner of 8th Avenue and 12th Street in Marion, IA for PoP Club! We hope to see you there!

Trying out the Super-U to-go kits.

Thursday was a blast as Happy Time students came to us for a tour of the Vinton Youth Garden and Old School Produce. Each child was engaged as we moved through the gardens and identified over 30 species of herbs and produce. One of the biggest hits was when the kids got to sample green beans, red raspberries, and kohlrabi from the garden. After our tour, we had an activity for the kids to make “FrankenPlants”. First, we talked about how we eat all parts of different plants including roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds. As a group, we brainstormed what vegetables fit into each of those categories. Some examples included peas as seeds, carrots as roots, lettuce as leaves, broccoli as flowers, peppers as fruits, and celery as stems. The kids then had the task of drawing a “FrankenPlant” or human made out of plants. They had to use one plant from each of the groups to create their person. The kids were very proud of their artwork!

On Friday, we had our weekly Kids On Course (KOC) University lesson about healthy living. This weeks lesson was focused on being mindful using a glitter jar. First we thought about how our bodies feel when we are sad or angry. Students then enjoyed creating their own glitter jars. We finished out the lessons by using the glitter jars to practice calming ourselves down and compared how our bodies felt after we were calm with before the activity. Many of the 63 students said they could tell a different in how they felt and were excited to add the glitter jar to their mindfulness toolbox. 

One of the glitter jars made today.

We will catch you next week with many more exciting activities in Linn and Benton Counties!
-Tatum & Maelyn

A Surplus of Seeds

Week 7

This week was spent investigating seeds, going on a journey with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and playing active bingo.

After the Benton County Fair last week, the office was fairly quiet on Monday. We used this down time to plan for the week. For lunch, we traveled to Garrison and had a fun time meeting with those who organized and put together the summer lunch program that takes place at the library. We ended our day helping with fair clean-up in the office. Our task was to help count the ribbons that were not handed out at the fair and organize them by color into bags to use for next year. 

Tatum showing kids how to take off the seed coat of their lima beans.

On Tuesday, we returned to the Jane Boyd Community House to give our weekly lesson. This weeks lesson was over seed dissection. We started off by asking the kids if they could think of any seeds they could eat. They were a little stumped by this question but were able to answer it when we gave them a hint and showed them the popcorn bag. That’s right popcorn is a seed you can eat! While the kids enjoyed their popcorn we read the book Seeds  by Vijaya Bodach. This book showed the kids what is inside a seed, how a seed grows into a plant, other edible seeds, and different ways seeds are dispersed. One of the kids’ favorite ways to disperse seeds is to make a wish and blow on a dandelion.

Next, we did a fun seed dissection with lima beans. We first rubbed off the seed coat, which helps to protect a seed. Then we split the seeds into the two cotyledons which eventually become the first leaves of the plant. The kids used their handed lenses to identify the radicle that would eventually become the roots. When the kids were finished with the activity, we went outside to check on the garden. The kids enjoyed seeing the progress of the plants and all of the tiny little sprouts. Next week we will be doing an exciting lesson over composting so be sure to watch out for that! 

Kids pulling weeds in one of the garden beds.

On Wednesday, we traveled to the Prairie Intermediate School to hand out to-go kits at their summer lunch program. We were happy to hand out “Grow Your Own Spinach” kits to over 100 families! We also received a lot of positive feedback from the families that tried the ranch kits we handed out last time. That evening, we traveled to Cleveland Park in Cedar Rapids to hand out more activity kits at the Rolling Rec Mobile. Each child had the option to take a “Grow Your Own Spinach” kit or “Watch Me Grow” kit to plant their own spinach or bush beans. Despite the heat, we had a great turnout and were able to hand out over 30 kits. It looks like there will be a lot of little gardeners in the future! Along with the kits, the children also enjoyed putting on 4-H and Iowa State tattoos.

Enjoying our coffee from Fifth Street Koffee Haus.

We finally got the chance to try out the Fifth Street Koffee Haus, which is just across the street from the Benton County Extension Office. We tried the salted peanut butter latte and toasted coconut latte, which were both very tasty! Our afternoon was spent planning and gathering materials for programming next week. 

We traveled to Cleveland Elementary on Friday to do a program with Kids On Course University. We showed the kids the importance of physical activity and challenged them to try to get in 30-60 minutes of physical activity each day. Next the kids got to participate in a fun game of activity BINGO which is similar to regular BINGO but instead of numbers called out, exercises are called for the kids to complete and mark it if they have it on their card. The kids really enjoyed this activity and also had a blast checking the difference in their heart rate before and after physical activity. 

We can’t wait for another fun week of programming next week so be sure to stay tuned. 

– Tatum and Maelyn

Camps, PoP Club, and Fair Season in Woodbury, Monona, and Plymouth County

Farm to Fork

On Tuesday I was able to assist Woodbury County’s Americorps Intern Emily with the Farm to Fork Camp. During this camp, the campers were able to learn about where the food they eat comes from. They learned about the five food groups from MyPlate which are: protein, dairy, grains, fruits, and vegetables. We talked about how exactly the food that they consume every day comes from farms all over the United States. Some of the campers were surprised by this statement, which to me was shocking, but watching them learn something new brought a smile to my face. They also learned how to use a knife safely in the kitchen and all about different utensils that are used when cooking. Once Emily and I were done teaching, we were able to go to Woodbury County’s teaching kitchen to help them make their own mini pizzas before the camp concluded. The mini pizza’s ingredients consisted of pepperoni, cheese, bell peppers, tomato sauce, and we used biscuits for the dough. All of the kids were really excited to get to take what they learned in the classroom and take that into the kitchen to make their own pizzas. They each got to choose what they wanted to put on their pizzas and once they were done baking all of the campers got to enjoy their mini pizzas. Each camper expressed their excitement about how good their pizza tasted!

  • Photo 1: Farm to Fork camper adding ingredients to her mini pizza
  • Photo 2: Placing all the very unique mini pizzas into the oven
  • Photo 3: Campers watching as the tomato sauce is added

Sioux City Farmers Market: PoP Club

Wednesday brought me to the Sioux City Farmers Market where I was able to teach kids about the PoP Club. PoP stands for Power of Produce and through the PoP Club, we are able to teach kids ages 4-12 about fresh produce. At this PoP Club, I planned a lesson to teach kids about gardening, with the help of Shawn Tabke, Woodbury County’s Horticulture Coordinator. Each of the kids who chose to participate got the opportunity to make and take egg carton seeds. They each had the opportunity to spin the wheel to decide what seed they would get to plant. The wheel was a hit, because who doesn’t like to spin a wheel? After our time at the Sioux City Farmers Market concluded we totaled our numbers and we had a little over 40 kids participate and join PoP Club! Seeing that big of a number was very exciting! Next week I will be bringing the PoP Club to two different farmer’s markets in Moville and Akron! Stay tuned for next week’s posts about PoP Club!

  • Photo 1: All set up and ready to go for PoP Club!
  • Photo 2: PoP member getting the opportunity to spin the wheel to decide which seed she would get to plant in her egg carton
  • Photo 3: Shawn teaching a PoP member about planting seeds

Recap of the Remainder of the Week

The rest of my time during the week was spent helping with getting everything ready for the fairs. Fair season is in full swing in all three counties! The Monona County Fair is up first and is quickly approaching. Yesterday I was in Onawa, which is where the Monona County office is. I spent most of my day cross-checking paperwork to make sure each exhibitor had everything that they needed to be completed on FairEntry. In two weeks I will be at the Monona County Fair getting to help where I am needed, but I will mainly be at all of the livestock shows. 

On Monday evening I was able to travel to Lemars for the Plymouth County Extension Council meeting. I had the opportunity to sit in on their meeting and get to tell their council members exactly what I have been doing so far over the summer! Plymouth County Fair is a little over a week after Monona’s fair. I am excited to get to help at the livestock shows in Plymouth County as well. The Woodbury County Fair is the last of the three counties, which will be where I am spending the last week of my internship. This week I had the opportunity to design the trophies for the Woodbury County Fair, which will be given to each of the respected winners at all of the livestock shows. 

  • Introducing myself to the Plymouth County Extension Council

In the weeks to come, I know that I will be very busy helping with everything that all of the fairs entail, PoP Club, a few summer camps, and finishing up my internship. I am excited for what is coming ahead but this internship has gone by so quickly! 

Autumn, Region 6

Week 6 in Region 27

Hello everyone! Last week was another busy, but fun-filled week! 

On Monday, I went to Roundy Elementary School in Louisa County to coach at the Soccer For Success camp. I coach the very energetic group of 1st and 2nd graders! This camp is great because they learn not only about soccer, but about healthy eating and nutrition. They have learned so much about both and are improving greatly in their soccer skills. 

On Tuesday, I went to the Mediapolis Library Program in Des Moines County. We read the kids a book called One Red Dot. Then, they were able to put their skills to the test and create a sculpture out of Play-Doh. The kids were so creative and amazed me with their sculpting skills! Then in the afternoon, I went to Lee County to prepare for the Montrose Farmers’ Market later in the evening. At the Montrose Farmers’ Market, we made and served samples of a creamy cauliflower salad. People who tried it loved it! We gave out the recipe and had a few other salad recipes that we thought people might enjoy for the summer. We also had participants spin the wheel to win a prize. The most popular prized was the chip clip. It was a great evening and we plan on going back again in July.

On Wednesday, I went to Roundy Elementary School in Louisa County to coach at the Soccer For Success camp. I coach the very energetic group of 1st and 2nd graders! They are learning to properly dribble, pass, and all about making healthy decisions when it comes to food! These kids are a blast and have even taught myself so much.

On Thursday, I went to Henry County to plan for our upcoming activity with Lincoln Elementary Summer School in Mt. Pleasant. I then went to Roundy Elementary School in Louisa County to coach at the Soccer For Success camp. From there I traveled down to Des Moines County to the Jefferson Street Farmers’ Market where we do PoP Club. This week kids learned about the difference in fruits and vegetables by playing some trivia. They also were able to try some freshly picked cucumbers.  We had an Armenian cucumber that most of the kids had never seen or eaten before. Most of the kids loved it! 

Can you see the difference between a typical cucumber (darker one) and the Armenian cucumber (fuzzy)?

On Saturday, I went to Langwood Education Center in Louisa County for the Langwood Outdoor Adventure day. (Pictures to come!) This was for 4-6th graders. They made some dog toys as a community service project that will be donated to the animal shelters. Then they participated in a low ropes course and really worked on learning how to work as a team and how to properly communicate with others. Kids then went on a nature walk in which they learned about edible and non edible plants. The kids loved getting a snack and were so shocked by some of the plants they could eat! They also learned how to canoe and loved being out on the water. We also had a DNR officer come and teach the kids how to fish and we had a couple catch some! Kids then put their feet to use and participated in a kickball tournament! This really brought out their competitive sides and they had a lot of fun. They then learned how to make foil packs and made chicken, potato, and green bean foil packs to grill. They learned how to properly start a fire and while their packs were on the grill, they made s’mores over the fire. Overall, it was a great experience for everyone and they had a blast! 

It was another busy week and this next week is winding down and counties are preparing for fair. Come back to see what I do this week! 


Fun and Friendships | Week 7 in Region 1

This has been a crazy week here in northwest Iowa. Everything has been kicked into high gear, but we’re still having fun.

First off, I would like to include a link to my blog post from last week. I did something wrong and it didn’t get posted right. So, my apologies about that!

Peas and Mingling

This week was a fun week at PoP Club! The kids played Vendor Bingo! To get a bingo, the kids had to go around to the vendors at the farmers’ market and interact with them. The interactions consisted of asking the vendors questions, learning about the vendors’ operations, and telling the vendors about themselves. The vendors absolutely LOVED this activity. They got to meet the kids, and the kids got to learn more about the production process. Additionally, the kids got to interact with vendors that don’t sell items that can be bought with PoP tokens, such as honey, jam, and soap vendors. After they got a Bingo, they got a balloon and had the opportunity to try sugar snap peas. If they tried the peas, they got to join the official taste tester club and got a sticker to prove it. Most of the kids liked the sugar snap peas, and we only had a few that didn’t like them.

Additionally, I finished creating the July PoP Club booklet, and those will be available soon. We give out booklets every month to our PoP Club members that are full of activities that the kids can complete related to the activities that we are doing in PoP Club.


For anyone who knows me, they know that I love cows. When I’m driving down the road and I see cows, I always let out a high-pitched “COWS!” squeal. This has even become a game between my boyfriend and myself. Whoever sees the cows first will let out the first squeal, which is sometimes followed by a secondary squeal from the other person. So, when I found out that I got to spend the day with our Beef Specialist Beth Doran, I was beyond excited.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to spend a day with Beth at the Feedlot Forum in Sioux Center, IA. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Feedlot Forum event had to be postponed from January to June. This event is organized by ISU Extension and Outreach and the Cattlemen’s Association of Lyon, Sioux, and Plymouth counties. I enjoyed having the opportunity to see some of the programs our specialists create every year and see them in action. I learned a lot about beef cattle, the beef industry, and beef policies that I didn’t know before. I would definitely recommend attending a program that is put on by Beth Doran! They are very interactive, informative, and worth it. The day went by so fast!

Festival Latino

So, I grew up relatively close to Orange City, IA, but I had never heard about Festival Latino until this week. This is a festival that occurs annually and celebrates Latino culture and heritage. There were food trucks, horse shows, live bands, and kids’ activities at the event. This is where I came in. Sioux County ISU Extension and Outreach had a booth, and I helped with it. Our Beef Specialist Beth Doran had a table and handed out beef meat cut flyers, coloring books, pencils, and the cutest squishy hamburger keychains. I helped Donna Mills, the Sioux County PROSPER team leader and Master Gardener Coordinator, with her table. Kids and adults had the opportunity to plant hens and chicks succulents to take home. It was a hit, and we planted many plants (I’m not sure of the exact number). It was a lot of fun to spend time with the Latino community and be immersed in their culture. Before I knew it, our time was up, and it was time to clean up and go home. The 2 hours flew by fast, and it felt like we were there for only 30 minutes. I wish that I would have taken more pictures of all the festivities there. If you are ever in the Orange City Area at the end of June, make sure to spend some time at Festival Latino!

This week has flown by so fast, and it was such a fun week. Fairs start for me next week, so wish me luck as I head into the busy fair season!

Have a great 4th of July weekend!


Fun at the Fairs

Week 6

This week was spent taking part in all things fair related as we headed off to the Linn and Benton County Fairs.

Monday and Tuesday we worked in both Linn and Benton counties to help with the Static Judging Day at each fair. Static judging is where 4-H and FFA members have the opportunity to enter exhibits that are not livestock for judging. Some of the categories include food and nutrition, home improvement, clothing and fashion, photography, and woodworking. Exhibitors then met with a judge one-on-one to discuss their goal-sheet and project. The judges reviewed their notes and awarded each project a ribbon based on how well the project met each standard. A judge could hold back projects of exhibitors 5th grade and above to be considered to move onto State Fair judging if they feel the project exceeded expectations. We helped to check kids in as well as make sure each of their projects were ready to go for judging. After judging had taken place, we also helped to hand out the various ribbons that were awarded to each exhibitor. It is always a fun time seeing all of the creative projects as the kids check them in and also how proud they are of their completed projects.

We arrived to the Benton County Fairgrounds early on Wednesday to help set up the exhibit for the static projects that had been selected for State Fair. The Static Building was filled with so much joy this day as many exhibitors filtered through to find out their project had been selected to move on to State Fair. During our downtime, we were also able to participate in the working exhibits that some of the exhibitors were putting on. We used our creativity to make ice cream cones out of foam and paper plates and stress balls out of cornstarch and balloons. The stress balls will definitely come in handy when we return to classes in the fall. Our afternoon was spent helping with livestock check in and walking through the barns to see all of the different animals. Of course we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try out the ice cream from the Dairy Producers food booth. The soft serve ice cream and chocolate shakes were definitely a 10/10. 

Projects advancing to the State Fair in Benton County.

On Thursday, we were back in Linn to help out at the Iowa State Extension and Outreach Booth. We had a fun time meeting with all of the kids and their families during kids day at the fair. The kids loved having the chance to spin the prize wheel and answer questions for the chance to get a prize and an ISU balloon. 

Food insecurity display set up at the Linn County Fair.

We ended our week at the Linn County Fair helping with the Ag Commodity Carnival booth. Children and adults gained financial literacy skills by “raising” a pretend steer. They incurred different costs associated with raising livestock such as health and nutrition costs, facility and wages costs, and transportation and energy costs. These were represented as marbles which went into a plastic egg that represented our steer. The last cost we explained was feed costs. Participants were able to fill their egg with how much feed they thought their steer would need. We then weighed the egg and handed out different discs that corresponded to the weight of the egg. Each disc showed the price per pound it would take to raise their steer. Lastly, they had the chance to take their steer to market, through a game of Plinko. They dropped their disc into different prices at the bottom of the Plinko board. They could then see if their steer would lose money, breakeven, or make money compared to the cost of raising their steer. 
We also used this day at the fair to showcase our display about food insecurity in Linn County. We have spent the past couple of weeks updating the display to be able to better inform the public about food insecurity in their area. 

Tatum handing disc showing price per pound of the “steer”.

Overall, both fairs were a success and it was a great to be able to help out! We are excited to have some “normalcy” again as we continue to complete youth programming over the next few weeks. 

– Tatum & Maelyn

Region 6 Updates: Woodbury, Plymouth, and Monona County

Summer Camps…

Woodbury, Plymouth, and Monona Counties have been keeping me busy! I have been doing a lot of traveling over the last two weeks from county to county. I was finally able to assist Lujean Faber, who is Woodbury Counties Lead 4-H Staff Member/Enhanced Youth Development Educator. I have had the pleasure of knowing Lujean for a long time. I’m not sure when I met her, but it was sometime before I started 4-H when I was a 4th grader. The camp that we worked on together was the Colors in the Garden Camp. This camp took place on June 18th and was offered to 1st – 3rd graders. Our camp was small, but mighty as we had 7 kiddos participate in the camp. Throughout the morning the kids learned all about seeds and plants. We had several seeds from different trees that grow in Iowa for them to identify.

All of the kids were very excited to make whirlybirds, as this was a craft to represent seeds from a Maple tree and how they fall to the ground after falling off of the tree. They were also very excited to get a tour of the Marilyn Engle Teaching Garden here at the Woodbury County Office. After the tour, we made greenhouses out of recycled plastic water bottles and the kids got to choose from a selection of vegetable seeds as to what they wanted to plant in their greenhouse. Lujean led a lesson on transplanting plants and the kids even got the opportunity to transplant different flowers into the teaching garden. Before the kiddos left for the day they got to make parachutes and they really enjoyed getting to throw them up in the air. The Colors in the Garden Camp was so much fun and I enjoyed getting to watch the kids learn throughout the day!

  • Top right photo: camper looking at a Maple seed
  • Bottom left photo: kiddos getting to add soil to their greenhouse
  • Right-hand side photo: youth looking at the herbs in the Marilyn Engle Teaching Garden

I spent my day at the Plymouth County Office in Lemars on Tuesday, June 22nd of this week. Kristen Heimgartner, who is Plymouth County’s intern this summer, and I got to lead the Mad Science Camp. The YMCA is right next door to the office in Plymouth County, so 23 summer camp kiddos were able to walk right over for our camp. Kristen and I decided to teach them something simple about science because they ranged in age from TK – 5th grade. The take home experiment that the kids got to make and take home was a lava lamp. Kristen and I also decided to give them goggles to wear because kids love to look like a scientist!

They each got their own see-through bottle which was filled ¾ of the way full with vegetable oil prior to them taking it due to the messiness of oil. We supplied them each with water and they were given directions to fill the rest of their bottle with water, but not to fill it to full because it would overflow. Kristen and I then walked around with different colors of food coloring and asked what color they would like their lava lamp to be. The most popular color of the camp was red, GO CYCLONES!! Once all the camp kiddos had the food coloring in, it was time for them to add a small piece of the Alka Seltzer tablet into their bottle. The kids’ faces were amazed at the reaction that was happening. Kristen, the YMCA staff, and I each went around and tied a list of ingredients to make the lava lamp and a baggie of extra tablets for them to try again at home. I enjoyed my time at the Mad Science Camp and we will be doing it again on July 19th with a new group of YMCA kiddos! 

  • 1st Photo: Camper watching the magic happen!
  • 2nd Photo: Me talking to the campers about what color of food coloring they wanted
  • 3rd Photo: Camper adding water to create her lava lamp

Looking Ahead..

I also had a meeting with the Monona County Staff earlier this week to discuss their county fair, which is July 13 – 17. It is looking like it will be a very busy week spent at the Monona County Fair. I am very excited to get to help with their static exhibit judging day and with all of their livestock shows! I met with the Plymouth County staff as well this week to discuss ways that I will be able to help at the Plymouth County Fair, which is July 28 – August 1. I will also be assisting with all of the livestock shows at their fair! I am also really excited to be getting to help at their Bucket Calf Show on Wednesday evening. If you read my previous post, I made several friends at the Clover Kids Camp earlier this month and I made a promise to my new friends that I would be there to watch them show their bucket calves.

Woodbury County staff and I have yet to discuss what I will be doing at the Woodbury County Fair, which is August 4 – 8. The Woodbury County Fair is my home away from home, as this is where I grew up and showed cattle ever since I can remember. I will be seeing the fair from a different point of view this year, as I will no longer be in the showring showing, but I will be helping wherever I am needed! You may be noticing a trend that I will be helping with livestock shows at each county fair and this is because I have a lot of experience with livestock. I give my credit to the Woodbury County Fair, as this is where I fell in love with the livestock industry and why I decided to become a veterinarian! I also have a few summer camps left on my schedule this summer and PoP Club! I will be running the PoP Club in both Moville, which is in Woodbury County, and Arkon, which is in Plymouth County. I have several dates set in July that I will be at and I am very excited to get to teach all of the kiddos new and exciting things! 

Stay tuned for more exciting things happening this summer in Region 6!

Autumn Weaver, Region 6 Rising Star Intern

North Central Iowa Weeks 5 & 6 | Region 4

Weeks 5 & 6 Summary

Week 5

Week 5 was an exciting week! We spent our week preparing for the Worth County Fair, met with the Farmers’ Market Vendors at their monthly meeting, and met with the Peace Park Council in Hampton to review designs. Friday was a busy day. We took off to Clear Lake bright and early at 5:30 a.m. in order to attend their Quarterly Coffee. Afterwards, we made our way the the Worth County Fair. At the Fair we had several tasks: surveying the community about their thoughts on community gardens and advertising a Lawns and Gardens event that will take place in August. Overall it was an eventful week!

Week 6

Compared to last week, we had much less traveling throughout the counties. On Tuesday we met with the Principal of Lincoln Intermediate to discuss some of our ideas for the greenhouse. We were met with great enthusiasm which has motivated us to keep working hard to ensure the greenhouse becomes a part of every child’s Lincoln Intermediate career. Throughout the rest of the week, we primarily worked remotely on tasks for the greenhouse, the Hampton Farmers’ Market, and more proposals for Peace Park.

See below for the progress made in our three projects over the last couple of weeks!

Summer Project Updates

Lincoln Intermediate Greenhouse

Mason city, IA

We will be working with Lincoln Intermediate staff and community to integrate the use of their recently built greenhouse into their classroom curriculum, particularly math and science. Throughout the summer we will: initiate the use of the hydroponics system, develop lesson plans, and create a sustainable growth & maintenance plan for the greenhouse.

Worth County Fair Booth

Northwood, IA

The Worth County Fair is fast approaching! The Rising Star Interns will be hosting a booth on Friday, June 18th. At the booth, we will be conducting a community survey to research the community’s outlook on community gardening and their knowledge and interest in the Master Gardener program. We will also be advertising a gardening event that will take place on August 5th.

Peace Park Transformation

Hampton, Ia

The decision on a final design for the Hampton IA downtown park is expected very soon! Since the revisions that were suggested last week have been taken into account, a final design is expected by the end of week 6, and will be proposed to Hampton community officials during week 7.

Activities and Accomplishments

Our team will be working together on each project to accomplish the objectives and goals. Together we have developed weekly tasks, schedules, and internal deadlines to meet the desired outcomes. These will be updated weekly to reflect our progress.
  • Created agendas and attachments for a meeting with Lincoln Intermediate’s principal.
  • Prepared workshop activities brainstorm list, including descriptions and benefits
  • presented list of activities to Lincoln Intermediate’s principal, and discussed logistics of holding learning workshops in the greenhouse at the end of July!
  • Developed a step by step guide for various processes within the greenhouse that will be compiled into a growing handbook for the greenhouse
  • Met with Dennis Johnson to tour the fairgrounds and local all the necessary items for the fair booth
  • Finished the flyers and posters for the August 5th lawns and gardens lecture
  • Printed informational posters about Master Gardener
  • Put together a poster to advertise the goody bags for survey participation
  • Finished the community garden survey and received ISU approval
  • Attended the fair and spoke to fair attendees about Master Gardener, our survey, and the August 5th event
  • Determined what specific materials will be purchased and used for construction
  • Determined what local design/build firm will take on the construction of this project
  • Began technical/utility plans with regards to the specific site
  • Refined final design concepts after meeting with Hampton city officials as well as the project donor.
  • Finished up final design plans that will be presented to Hampton city officials during week 7
Rough draft of a growing timeline we will finalize and share with faculty as part of the final report. Teachers can use this for lesson planning in relation to the greenhouse
Here’s a graphic that was designed to advertise the prizes being given out as a reward for taking the survey.
Visualization of potential purposes/designs that can be applied to the empty lot in order to transform the site into useable green space.

Region 4 | Weeks 7/4 to 7/18

Week(s) 7/4 to 7/18 Summary

Week 5

Interns of region 4 spent the first few days of the week working from their homes, in Ames. We focused on sorting through information that had been collected the week before, figuring out what information was relevant towards our goals. We analyzed the data from the Worth county fair in order to determine our marketing plan for the county at large, in an attempt to gain more community participation. r

Week 6

Week 6 was a week defined by progress. The final concept for the “Pocket Park” in Hampton, IA was completed. This final concept will be presented using a brochure that will visualize the concept for the greater community. In addition, promotional systems/advertising has been implemented for the Hampton Farmers Market, thanks to the participation of the local Hardee’s restaurant (located adjacent to the market site). As for the Mason city project, the systems in the greenhouse have been set up/tested in order to ensure their working condition.

See below for the progress made in our three projects over the last couple of weeks!

Summer Project Updates

Lincoln Intermediate Greenhouse

Mason city, IA

We will be working with Lincoln Intermediate staff and community to integrate the use of their recently built greenhouse into their classroom curriculum, particularly math and science. Throughout the summer we will: initiate the use of the hydroponics system, develop lesson plans, and create a sustainable growth & maintenance plan for the greenhouse.

Worth County Community Gardens

Northwood, IA

In order to expand the community garden program in Northwood, IA, we researched similar community garden programs that have proved to be successful (such as Clear Lake, IA). In addition, we met with community organizers charged with the oversight of the Mason City Community Gardens. We believe Northwood’s community garden can thrive if we implement advertising and active recruitment.

Peace Park Transformation

Hampton, Ia

The decision on a final design for the Hampton IA downtown park has been decided, and the final renderings have been completed. The donor accepted one of the concepts that was presented, and now we are working to create brochures for the community at large, so they too can visualize what this plot of land will look like in less than a years time. This visualization will not only improve public perception on the project, but also draw out potential ideas/elements that can be included in this project.

Activities and Accomplishments

Our team will be working together on each project to accomplish the objectives and goals. Together we have developed weekly tasks, schedules, and internal deadlines to meet the desired outcomes. These will be updated weekly to reflect our progress.
  • Set up/inspected the hydroponics table
  • Researched lesson plans that are congruent with existing lesson plans
  • Ensured that all greenhouse systems were working properly
  • Came up with a list of feasible lesson plans that will engage kids at the intermediate level.
  • Created a budget document with regards to annual spending that will be needed.
  • Toured the community gardens in Clear Lake, IA (great example of a successful community garden)
  • Toured the community gardens in Mason City
  • Talked with individuals involved with the Master Gardener program
  • Began to identify specific elements from the master gardener program that can be helpful with regards to promotional strategies.
  • Implemented the poster to showcase some of the work Master Gardeners do and learn during their training
  • Agreed on a final design concept that will be presented to the Hampton community at large
  • Discussed budgeting with regards to who will construct the project/when.
  • Began designing a brochure that will be distributed to the community at large, showcasing what the space will look like when completed
  • Discussed engineering concerns that may come up during the construction process.
This is an option for how the greenhouse can be arranged when utilized in the fall. Photos below are from our work day on 6/4/21.

This poster was designed this week to go on the board behind us at the Worth County Fair.
Visualization of final design concept in the empty lot in order to transform the site into useable green space.

Outdoor Fun Under the Sun!

Week 5

This week was spent enjoying the gorgeous weather and checking off everything on our to-do lists to get ready for the fairs.

On Saturday, Tatum helped implement Power of Produce (Pop) Club at the Uptown Marion Market. Power of Produce is a fun opportunity to engage 5-12 year old children in the farmer’s market. Each child received 3 “PoP Bucks” that they could spend on fruit or vegetables at the market. Each child also had the opportunity to plant a pot of bush beans to take home and try radishes with homemade ranch. There was a great turnout with over 30 children between the ages of 5 and 12.

We traveled back to the Happy Time Child Development Center to teach the kids about carrots on Monday. We started by reading Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, and then we made some carrots of our own, not creepy, of course, out of pipe cleaners. The kids then had a fun time taste-testing carrots and using their five senses to describe the carrot. We ended with a motion activity, and the kids had a blast pretending they were carrots that were ready to be picked. 

Kids having fun pretending they are carrots.

Tuesday, we set out early to the Jane Boyd Community House to do some programming with Kindergarten-3rd graders. We had fun talking about what a seed needs to grow and then had the opportunity to help the kids plant their garden. We planted various vegetables such as tomatoes, beets, kale, and peppers while talking about what some of our favorite vegetables were to eat. We also talked about the importance of physical activity in addition to eating fruits and vegetables, and each kid had a turn rolling the activity dice. The group then completed the amount and exercise that were on the dice. One of our favorite parts of programming is the taste test and getting to see all of the kids’ different reactions. Today we tried sugar snap peas that we purchased at the Uptown Marion Market. We explained to kids how this particular vegetable is a seed you can eat and showed them how to break off the part connected to the vine, and then gave them the chance to use their five senses to describe it while trying it. The kids then voted on the peas with their thumbs, using the familiar loved it, liked it, tried it voting system. The peas were a hit with many of the kids, and they told us they were going to ask their parents to get some at home, which was awesome to hear. 

Close up of the dry ingredients for the homemade ranch dip.

Wednesday was a busy day as we were in both Linn and Benton counties. We started the morning in Linn county at the College Community School District’s grab-and-go meal program. We had a great time meeting with those taking advantage of this wonderful resource and also took the time to hand out 280 activity sheets and homemade ranch kits for vegetable dipping. We always have a blast getting outside and into the community, especially when the weather is as nice as it has been this week. We had a relaxing lunch break and then set off to Benton county to help with fair prep. The afternoon was spent helping to make different posters and putting our craft skills to the test to make award plaques for livestock class winners. 

Spinach kits we will be handing out at the fairs next week.

Thursday morning we headed out on the road to meet the Rollin’ Rec Mobile at Time Check Park in Cedar Rapids. We were able to hand out some of the Watch Me Grow kits we made at the start of the internship and also had a temporary tattoo station set up for the kids. When it wasn’t busy, we took part in some of the fun activities the Rollin’ Rec Mobile had to offer, and we even took the chance to show off our hula-hooping skills. We decided to get out of the office for lunch and headed down the road to Chick-fil-A to enjoy their always delicious chicken nuggets and fries. We finished out the afternoon completing some tasks around the office and getting the rest of the spinach kits ready to be handed out at upcoming events.

On Friday, the Linn County office was filled with great hustle and bustle as everyone is working on getting all of the last-minute details and tasks finalized and finished for the fair. Much of the morning was spent getting everything packed and loaded into vehicles to be taken to the fairgrounds later in the afternoon. We are super excited to help with the fair this year and have the chance to present the food insecurity project we have been updating as well.
Catch us next week at both the Benton and Linn County Fairs taking place June 22-27 and June 23-27, respectively.

– Tatum and Maelyn