The new Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center in Lansing is now open. I made a recent trip there and was impressed by the exhibits that occupy this pristine space. A section of the center on the main floor is dedicated to a live animal exhibit. Some kids were there enjoying learning about such animals as a garter snake, a snapping turtle, a brown snake and an American toad. Informational displays were found throughout the center. One, entitled “A Rocky Layer Cake,” detailed the geological foundation of the Driftless region. Another informational display, “The Roots of Iowa Conservation,” delved into the history of the Lansing Fish Hatchery that was founded in 1917. While still exploring the main floor, I stumbled upon a live honeybee exhibit. It was very engaging to be that close to a live hive full of bees and to read the accompanying information on their lifecycle and their interactions in the hive. I think kids too would marvel at this display. It brings nature within arm’s length while providing the resources for real and meaningful learning.
The Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center also provides a wealth of information on Allamakee County’s history. Central to Iowa history are the lives of Native Americans who made their home and lived their lives on Iowa soil. There is a display of various stone tools once utilized by Native Americans and an interesting exhibit of Oneota pottery. There also is an entire informational display dedicated to Chief Black Hawk. It won’t be only the kids who learn a variety of new facts while touring the Center. The information on Mississippi River traffic and the exhibit featuring video-simulated barge traffic are sure to captivate all generations.
If you want to take in the sheer beauty of the river, there are two spacious overlooks with seating out the rear of the Center. The one on the top floor gives you a great panoramic. As I stood out there for a moment and marveled at the vast expanse of the river, I was greeted by yet another informational placard. I also noted that a paved walkway graced the river’s edge and that there were nearby benches. So, the opportunities provided by the Center to get close to the river are abundant.
With free admission, the Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center is a location you can put on your list of destinations each time you make your way to Lansing. I found it to be a very educational space with plenty of opportunities for interactive learning, situated on a marvelously beautiful corner of Lansing. It is a must-see for those in Allamakee County, but is worth the drive from all regions of the state and beyond.