The University of Iowa is expanding its wilderness education program to reach 4,500 elementary school children this year, and it should bring the outdoor learning experience to more than 6,000 next year.
Jay Gorsh, director of UI School of the Wild, says the program is typically a five-day field trip that takes fourth, fifth and sixth graders out of the classroom and into the woods. Gorsh says it helps kids to develop a sense of awareness and appreciation for nature.
“Most often we use the three habitats in Iowa: prairie, wetlands and woodlands,” Gorsh says. “Then regularly we have a day of outdoor skills. Sometimes there’s an Archaeology Day in there. Sometimes you might have an entire day dedicated to wildlife or a specific type of wildlife. Here in Iowa City, we have an entire day dedicated to birds, so we have an Ornithology Day.”