As I was solo-hiking today, I became elated to hear a group of elementary-aged kids behind me… a school group that was having the opportunity to learn in nature! I’m so happy these opportunities still exist in our technological world. Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Area in Toddville is the perfect place for a school group or adult nature lover to spend the day.
Before heading to the outdoor learning area, be sure to check out the interactive exhibits inside and learn more about the Native Americans who first called Iowa home, the wildlife and habitats surrounding the area and much more. Outside, walk around the wetlands, the savanna trail, archeological trail, or nature trail. Informational signs line the trails so no one can leave without learning something. Outside the nature center is a rock with an Aldo Leopold quote: “The objective is to teach the student to see the land, to understand what he sees, and enjoy what he understands.” For me, a hike on the nature trail not only helped me see the land, but heightened all of my senses.
I saw vivid colors on the great diversity of trees, a small group of ground squirrels playing, even small items hanging from trees such as a sock and camera bag – leftover from a nature scavenger hunt, or possibly dropped by a guest engrossed in a hike. I heard a fly buzz by my ear, the scurry of small paws running away at the sound of my feet, walnuts falling from the trees, creaking trees, and the wind blowing between the trees. I smelled the wonderful scent of pine on a path of pine trees, the undeniable smell of black walnuts on the ground, and just fresh air. I felt the sun soak into my skin at the prairie, the shade cover me in the tree-filled paths, and the cool dew on my feet in the area where these two paths met.
A quick look at the Wickiup Hill Facebook page or website shows the great number of events they also hold – kids programming, speakers, Native American cultural events, movie nights, and more. One flyer especially caught my attention – zombie apocalypse survival skills! Everyone needs those skills, right? Be sure to check out this great educational resource and environmental haven in the backyard of Cedar Rapids.
Visit http://www.mycountyparks.com/county/Linn/Park/Wickiup-Hill-Learning-Center.aspx for more information.