Farm Progress

Murals inside learning lab tells story of farming and land use.

July 11, 2018

2 Min Read
HANDS-ON: Visitors to the new Conservation Station trailer are encouraged to respond to the question, “What is your hope for Iowa?”

Iowa Learning Farm’s updated Big Conservation Station trailer will make its debut appearance at the Cedar County Fair today in Tipton, Iowa. The trailer is operated by Water Rocks!, a unique, award-winning statewide water education program, and ILF, a hands-on education and outreach program for farmers throughout Iowa.

The traveling trailer has been outfitted with new mixed-media murals produced by artists Cecelia Comito of Artworks Studio in Carroll, Iowa, and Ann Staudt of Water Rocks.

Installed in the Conservation Station’s walk-through learning lab, the artwork tells the story of farming and land use in the past and present, and suggests a possible future. The story represents advances in conservation efforts over time, and potential possibilities as farmers and other Iowans continue to implement effective land management to build soil health, improve water quality and increase wildlife habitat. Conservation is about the future, and visitors are encouraged to artistically respond to the question, “What is your hope for Iowa?”

Think about land management choices
“When we take the Big Conservation Station to community events such as fairs, our goal is to engage the visitors in thinking long-term about the positive and negative environmental impacts of our land management choices,” Staudt says. “Farming practices have evolved over time, and not always in ways that have been good for the broader ecosystem. We’re presenting folks with a hopeful pathway to a healthier environment in Iowa.”

The Big Conservation Station team uses interactive games like the Watershed Game for children, and engages parents and grandparents in seeing what happens to water quality when they “make it rain” in the game. The Poo Toss also makes learning about pet waste runoff fun for kids of all ages.

Rainfall simulator compares practices
The trailer’s rainfall simulator shows visitors the dramatic differences in water infiltration and runoff with side-by-side comparisons of traditional tillage, no-till, cover crops and two urban situations. The proof is in the murky vs. clear runoff water collected and the amount of water infiltration that happens.

For more information about Water Rocks or to request a visit from the Conservation Station, visit To learn more about Iowa Learning Farms outreach and education programs, or to find out when the Big Conservation Station will be in your area, visit

Upcoming Big Conservation Station trailer appearances:
• July 12, Calhoun Co. Fair
• July 13, Carroll Co. Fair
• July 14, Iowa Co. Fair
• July 17, Public Radio on Tap, Iowa City
• July 18, Polk Co. Fair
• July 19, Jones Co. Fair
• July 20, Tama Co. Fair
• July 21, Poweshiek Co. Fair
• July 26, Monroe Co. Fair
• July 27, Fayette Co. Fair
• July 28, Independence Farmers Market
• Aug. 4, Lakes Area Farmers Market, Spirit Lake
• Sept. 2, Glow Wild at Jester Park, Granger

Source: Iowa Learning Farms



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