Taylor Manemann, daughter of Diane and Robert Manneman of Hudson, has joined a group of conservation and water quality educators at Iowa State University to travel the state delivering environmental content, participating in research projects and helping farmers learn about the latest in land and soil management practices. As an ISU water resources intern, Manemann is a part of the award-winning Water Rocks! youth conservation education program and Iowa Learning Farms, a leading source of conservation and water quality resources and education in Iowa.
"I'm excited about the combination of working with and meeting people throughout Iowa and helping with research this summer," said Manemann. "I'll be entering my last semester at ISU in August and the practical experience I've already gained in the first weeks of this job has helped me solidify my passion for environmental science and conservation. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity and look forward to a great summer of learning and educating."
Her summer started in mid-May with immediate immersion into the Water Rocks! programming, visiting schools for classroom education. The program helps school-aged children not only understand the terminology of conservation but helps them individually make a difference by providing them with tangible activities and lifelong practices that each can use to do their part in protecting Iowa's natural resources and environment.
"Having a chance to combine my passion for the environment with my love of working with people and increasing my own knowledge and confidence as the same time is an unbelievable opportunity," said Manemann. "By the end of summer, I expect to have honed my public speaking skills and learned many things that will be valuable to me in my future career."
In addition to the Water Rocks! programming, Manemann has been fully checked-out on the Conservation Station trailers used by Iowa Learning Farms to bring the classroom to the audience, providing a platform for field days, outdoor classrooms, and educational programming at county fairs, farmers markets and other public venues throughout the state.
The schedule of a water resources intern is complex, rigorous and rewarding. Activities include working with ISU researchers to collect samples and data, delivering one-on-one and group presentations on topics ranging from best agricultural practices to the importance of picking up after our pets, and playing games such as Wetlands BINGO, the Watershed Game and the Poo Toss. It also includes lots of drive time, opportunities to observe Iowa from roadways large and small, and chances to get to know fellow teammates as well as a broad cross-section of Iowans.
"Summer is our busiest outreach season, and while the interns enable ILF and Water Rocks! to make more visits and appearances, they contribute much more than people power," said Jacqueline Comito, Water Rocks! executive director. "One of the coolest things we see every year is the connection between these young people and the audiences we serve. And not just the kids. Adults often seek out the interns to hear their stories and learn about why they're involved in conservation efforts. Many have commented that it gives them hope for the future to see young people so passionate about conservation."
Originally from Huntington Beach, CaliF., Manemann has crisscrossed the country living in multiple states coast-to-coast, finally settling at ISU to pursue a bachelor's degree in environmental science with minors in sustainability and agronomy. Having always lived in cities, Manemann is surprised and impressed with the level of conservation knowledge of students she's seen in classroom visits as an intern.
"Our internship program provides learning opportunities on multiple levels," noted Comito. "They hone communications skills and gain experience in public engagement and education, but also get their hands dirty working in the field with experts in agriculture, water quality and conservation research. At the end of the summer these young people return to their studies with a boatload of new skills, knowledge and confidence."
To find out when the Conservation Stations and Water Rocks!, visit waterrocks.org/calendar. You will be able to visit with some of the interns and perhaps learn a little bit about conservation and water quality in the process.