Nevada, Iowa – Dick Van Deusen, a rural home and woodland owner, will be welcoming 250 Nevada,
Iowa students in Central Elementary’s multiage program to his land on March 28 th and April 4 th to learn
about managing natural resources. It is a private event, but members of the media are invited to attend.
For more than 35 years, Dick has owned a home that overlooks Squaw Creek. Changes in vegetation,
stream straightening, crop field tile drainage, and rainfall have resulted in critical soil erosion. Along with
neighbor Dave Hughes, Dick contacted Luke Gran, owner of Prudenterra, a local ecosystem restoration
business, to make a plan to better protect his home and their land from the cutting erosion taking place
along Squaw Creek.
Invasive species and other undesirable plants were removed by Prudenterra in early 2018, and fall
woodland burns will help maintain healthy plant communities with better soil coverage to reduce future
surface erosion. More work would be needed to stabilize the streambank, however.
When Kedra Hamilton, a multiage teacher from Central Elementary in Nevada mentioned to Luke of
Prudenterra that they were looking for a service learning project to implement classroom concepts, he
thought that the project on Dick Van Deusen and Dave Hughes’ land would be a good match.
“Dick and Dave want to do what they can to help others appreciate our natural areas,” explained Luke.
“They are curious to understand what is happening and empower the wider community to take action to
strategically improve water, habitat, and protect our infrastructure from the impacts of climate change.”
Luke invited Dick and Dave to host the Junior Foresters: Service Learning event on their land to share
ecosystem management concepts with their community through student engagement.
“I can’t think of a better way to encourage our kids to become active observers of the living world around
us than to engage them in projects,” says Dick. “Dave and I are happy to provide a place for them to
explore and help to begin what we hope will become a larger project to protect all of Squaw Creek.”
During the service learning project, themed “Pluck, Plant, Pickup, Place, and Phike”, students will get to
observe and perform kid-friendly management activities in the forest and stream landscape. They will be
trained by high school and college students and other community volunteers to identify and Pluck small
invasive plant species with pliers and collect the plants to show how many small seedlings have come up
Then, students will get to Plant native shrub seedlings and live stakes to improve diversity on the site and
manage streambank erosion. Next, they will Pickup and Place rocks beneath drainage tile outlets to
reduce energy and redirect flow of water to reduce soil erosion until a more substantial streambank
restoration practice can be installed. Finally, the kids will ge to go on a Phike (keeping with the “P” theme)
to explore the woodland.
This learning activity is the first of its kind for the partners says Kedra Hamilton, of Central Elementary
School in Nevada. “ The theme for our multiage program this year is ‘Meeting the Challenge’ - this is a
great way for us to learn and tackle a real-world environmental issue. “We want kids to be empowered to
make a difference - to be world changers.”
The Junior Foresters: Service Learning project “Pluck, Plant, Pickup & Place, and Phike” is organized by
Central Elementary School and Prudenterra. It is made possible by multiage students and teachers at
Central Elementary, and volunteer work by Luke Gran of Prudenterra, Lee Searles of Leeward Solutions,
LLC, landowners Dick Van Deusen and Dave Hughes, Mike Todd and the Ames High School Eco Club,
Prairie Rivers of Iowa, Hickory Hills Homeowners Association, and other community members. Funding
was provided by ITC Midwest, Trees Forever, the Central Elementary Enterprise Fund, and Alpha Copies.
Media Information: Members of the media are invited to attend these private events on March 28th and
April 4th, 2018. Contact Luke Gran of Prudenterra (515) 382-1239 for schedule details and directions to
the site. Detailed project information can be found in this Project Plan.