Seventh-grade students at North Polk Middle School visited Jester Park for their annual class field trip on Oct. 19.

“Every year we go on this field trip, and every year we see the value in it,” said Emily Young, seventh- grade teacher at NPMS. The annual trip to Jester Park is service-based and allows students a hands-on learning experience.

Preserving Iowa wildlife is a main focus of Jester Park’s conservation board and, as a result, it’s deeply rooted into the field trip experience. Students learned the importance of native species and ways to help preserve their natural habitats. Students learned about invasive species, including honeysuckle, that threaten Iowa’s natural ecosystem and then helped to remove the harmful shrubs from areas of the park. Students helped to collect seeds for the prairie, learned how to build survival shelters and built a canoe launch. To help at the campsites, students loaded and hauled firewood.

“By kids getting their hands dirty and helping the community, they feel pride and accomplishment,” said Young. “Of course, they have a lot of fun, too.”