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August 11, 2023 | Education

Summer Stories: Youth Development Program, Week 7

This week included some unique learning opportunities with field trips to Wickiup Hill and the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.

The Youth Development Program is a paid opportunity for high-school-age students to develop and hone various skills in preparation for life beyond the classroom. The summer session is called the Seed Crew, and is 8 weeks of working, learning, and connecting as a team.

This week at Youth Development we explored quite a bit, including two field trips!

On Monday, we visited Wickiup Hill Learning Center for a tour and lesson in water quality, habitats, and the history of the Native Americans who once lived in Eastern Iowa. The students got to participate in a fun watershed activity where they all got to design the watershed around a section of the Cedar River. They all received a cup of clean water to start, and as we went through what would go into the water based on their designs, we saw how dirty the water got. It was a great visualization of how the health of our land translates into the health of our water! We went back to the farm to eat lunch and had a little bit of time left in the day to pit cherries and harvest a few pears.

On Tuesday morning we shredded so much zucchini! We made some zucchini bread to bring over to the Cultivate Hope Corner Store and it sold out fast. The students did a bit of weeding around the farm in plots that we hope to plant in sometime soon. In the afternoon, everyone worked on their Transamerica presentations. Our Youth Development Program is partially funded by the Transamerica Foundation, so we like to show them the growth they are encouraging and give them an idea of what we’ve been doing all summer long.

Wednesday morning was our kitchen day. Right at the beginning of the day, we had a group of students make fresh zucchini bread for our market while the others gathered up the vegetables we needed to make some value-added products, then headed over to Groundswell Cafe. We made salsa using tomatoes, onions and peppers from the farm, as well as pear jam using the pears we harvested earlier in the week. Both items turned out amazingly well and we’ll be selling them at our markets.

Thursday was an exciting day, as it was our field trip to the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium! It was quite the drive but so worth it. The students learned so much about the history of the Mississippi River, and how it transitioned into what it is today. All the students got to touch a stingray! There were so many exhibits about water quality and life that we normally don’t see. Everyone loved it and had the best time ever. We also had a few students work at the farmers market Thursday evening.

Only one more week of Youth Development!