Field Trips at the Jester Park Nature Center

Each fall, thousands of students make their grand return to schools across the state. My own children are just a month back into the swing of things...and beginning to get restless. As I picked them up on Monday, my oldest came running out of the building bursting with excitement - "Mom!", he shouted. "We are going to the botanical center next week on a field trip!". It is that sense of joy and wonder outside of the four walls of a school that begins of a lifetime of learning, and the Jester Park Nature Center will be at the center of such opportunities for the children of central Iowa.

Studies have found that field trips enhance a student's learning experience by providing exposure to important educational experiences outside the confines of the classroom, homework, and tests. Regardless of demographics, students that are offered educational field trips show a direct correlation to higher grades, graduation rates and higher income potential. Field trips leave participants with a lasting impact on schooling as it creates a particular brand of engagement that sparks curiosity and interest in continued learning outside of the classroom. Schools serving disadvantaged students are also able provide those children less likely to be exposed to the enriching experiences and benefits of field trips. This affords students the equal opportunity to experience something they may not otherwise be exposed to at home.

The Jester Park Nature Center will be the premier site in central Iowa for schoolchildren to participate in field trips exploring the great outdoors. Situated within a 1,675-acre park on the western shore of Saylorville Lake, classes will have space to roam the woodland, aquatic, and prairie habitats located just outside the front door of the Nature Center. While the purpose of the Jester Park Nature Center is to get you outside, it will also allow for visiting classes to bring the outdoors inside for further study. 

This facility will also include classrooms which will increase environmental programming opportunities for schools, and allow for year-round field trips even when Mother Nature is less than cooperative. With the inclusion of a rental facility, opportunities abound for outdoor recreation during field trips. Students may be exposed to activities that may otherwise not be made available to them such as fishing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, etc.

The Jester Park Nature Center will bring together the classroom, the outdoors, new experiences and memories for children of all ages. “Field trips give students the opportunity to learn in a natural environment and experience things first-hand and from primary resources, rather than texts; real objects rather than photos...Today's students are visual learners and a field trip lets them touch, feel, and listen to what they’re learning about, [which helps them] build on classroom instruction, gain a better understanding of topics, build cultural understanding and tolerance, and expose them to worlds outside their own.”
                              - Carylann Assante, executive director for Student & Youth Travel Association



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