Exploring the great minds of nature

Wild Wednesdays at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory begin June 12

Wednesdays are going to be wild at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory.

Once again this year, Lakeside Lab will be hosting their weekly Wednesday night programs aimed at families to help them explore nature. The first program will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 12.

“Wild Wednesdays are family-oriented, fun, free programs to encourage people to explore nature right here in our backyard in the Iowa Great Lakes, and is also a way of connecting people with the scientific community here at our biological field station,” said Jane Shuttleworth, the education coordinator with Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. “We teach and train people to be environmental scientists here so the community has access to this wonderful wealth of knowledge we’ve been collecting for over 100 years.”

The programs are at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and are held at Waitt Lab. The summer program often has a central idea to tie the season together and this year’s theme is “Great Minds of Nature.”

“The theme for us this year is inspired by the fact that at the end of the summer, we are hosting an outdoor play called “Nature.’ It’s going to be a walking play about Emerson and Thoreau. People will be following them through the woods and the fields and then there will be performances at three locations here at Lakeside Lab,” Shuttleworth explained.

Before the outdoor play, Wild Wednesdays will explore other great minds of nature like Emerson and Thoreau.

“We are taking inspiration from Emerson and Thoreau who used nature as a way to think about the world and our connection to each other,” Shuttleworth said. “Each Wild Wednesday will feature an observer of nature — not only the science part of it, but also philosophy. They wanted to see how nature inspires us to think about our place in the world.”

The first session will feature the American author and essayist Edward Abbey and the program will be inspired by this quote of his: “Wilderness. The word itself is music.”

“This theme of Great Minds of Nature is a great way of exploring nature, not just in a scientific way, but also creative and figurative ways of thinking of nature,” Shuttleworth said. “It’s a more well rounded way of thinking of our place in nature.”

Abbey’s quote speaks to the music of nature, and Shuttleworth says that they have hopes of bringing in and incorporating their acoustic ecology class, who have been waking up at dawn and recording the sounds they hear.

For those interested in exploring Iowa Lakeside Lab’s campus more, the Treasure Hike is open. It’s a self-guided treasure hunt that people can do on their own time. They pick up a map at the entrance and they will find clues hidden in boxes.

With both the Treasure Hike and Wild Wednesdays programs, Shuttleworth hopes that they inspire future nature lovers.

“We just hope that every child has a seed of curiosity planted and they have a natural wonder of the world. We hope to help them grow and give that curiosity a little fertilizer so that when they leave they continue to be interested in what they learn about and enrich their lives, and apply what they learn because nature is everywhere” Shuttleworth said.