Wartburg student preserves nature

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Iowa’s prettiest parks and prairies are now a lot cleaner and healthier thanks to the team of nine scholarship students and two crew leaders who have dedicated their summer to nature conservation.

Wartburg College student Erin Yoder, along with the eight other Anna Beal Scholarship recipients, know first hand the importance of preserving and conserving Iowa’s tallgrass prairies, deciduous forests and wetland ecosystems after nearly two months of dredging through brush and dirt. For their hard work, each student will receive $3,500 toward college tuition.

Yoder, a senior at Wartburg majoring in biology and secondary education, was surprised that only three days after she applied to the program, she was accepted. Like most students who participate in this 11-week intensive program, she will be able to use her field experience and valuable education later in her career teaching biology to high school students.

“I have learned so much about geology... the different prairie plants, soils and wetlands,” says Yoder, rambling with excitement. “I really love that there’s an educational part of this.”

Most recently, the group finished a week camping in George Wyth State Park removing woody vegetation and trees. In the area, there are a lot of Cedar Trees and crown dutch weeds that are very invasive plants and grow very fast. Without removal, Yoder explains, all the other native plants, grasses and flowers will be choked out.

“I love it… I get to use the chainsaw,” says Yoder laughing. “It is pretty fun though, but sometimes we have to remove them manually.”

So far, Yoder’s favorite place has been the West Hills in Westfield, near Sioux City. It’s the only place besides China that has these particular kind of hills, she says. Besides learning valuable land geography, she truly enjoys being able to work with the crew she has grown so close to.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better crew... I love them,” says Yoder. “I anticipate keeping in contact with them for a long time.”

Next on the agenda for Yoder will be student teaching in Denver, Colo. After that, she plans on rolling with the punches.

“Wherever I can get a good job and teach, I’ll go,” says Yoder. “I’m not attached anywhere... the sky’s the limit.”

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