The rain may have changed the agenda a little but it didn’t stop excited Four Mile kindergartners and our High School Environmental Science class students from getting together at our Environmental Learning Center (ELC) to explore.

According to Four Mile Kindergarten teacher Janet Riordan and High School Science teacher Melany Shaw, celebrating Earth Day together at the ELC has become an annual event. The two teachers have been collaborating for over three years, to give the kindergartners hands-on experience during their Habitat and Animal science learning section and give our high school students a great opportunity to show all that they’ve learned while utilizing our ELC, a unique area created in partnership with a Drake University and Metro Waste Authority.

In the past, all of the students would go to Camp Creek together to study all the wildlife that lives in and depends on the creek. With the rain, they made adjustments by bringing buckets of creek water inside the building to study.

The high school students had 3 different stations set up. One was to study animals native to Iowa and what they need to survive. Another station was looking through microscopes to examine the living creatures that live in the creek. The last station allowed students to study bones and paw prints of native Iowa animals.

Our High School Environmental Science class is open to SEP juniors and seniors. A couple of the seniors in this class are planning on going into environmental science careers. Aurora Gowin is deciding between horticulture, conservation and urban agriculture. She’s studying Environmental Sciences at the University of Iowa after graduation. Haden Stone is going into permaculture, an approach to land management and settlement design that adopts arrangements observed in flourishing natural ecosystems. After graduation, Haden is looking into internships through WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), an organization that links students to farmers, where he’ll get hands-on experience.

“This class has given me a lot of valuable information,” he shared.

Check out more from Haden here:


Blank Park Zoo also gave a presentation to the kindergartners.

Lastly, they got lunch!

Learning, collaborating, getting first-hand experience and having fun. It’s the perfect lesson plan!

Four Mile and High School Students Examining Creek water

Follow this link to learn more about the ELC, our environmental-based student-centered field learning opportunity for our SEP staff and students: