It’s not every day frog catching and compass reading are on the day’s agenda for school children, but recently in Jackson County, both activities were part of the curriculum.

Fifth-graders participated in a week of outdoor learning as part of School of the Wild, a University of Iowa program offered locally with the help of staff from Jackson County Conservation and area schools. A group of Bellevue Elementary School students swept nets through the water at Green Island Wildlife Management Area, looking for frogs, snails and other creatures that would help them get a sense of the water’s quality.

Through the program, students get to know the parks in their community and connect with the environment. The great outdoors offer a magnificent classroom for students who studied science by testing water and examining its contents, going on nature walks and learning to use a compass. Students also learned about local history and wrote about their experiences. What a great opportunity for area youth, brought about by this unique collaborative effort.

As one student put it, “You have a little bit more fun when you learn outdoors.” Indeed. Especially on the heels of a year when almost nothing was normal, getting kids out into nature and appreciating the natural wonders around them makes for an expansive educational experience.

A great idea struck Amanda Kennedy during the pandemic that helped local businesses, brought her neighborhood together and made dinnertime easy on busy parents. No wonder the concept will continue even as quarantines are lifting.

Kennedy’s idea was to invite a food truck to park in her driveway and invite everybody in her Forest Hills Estates neighborhood to come out and support the business. The local residents loved it, and so did the local food trucks. The idea might even be catching on in other neighborhoods.

A nod to Kennedy for finding a way to connect with neighbors and support small businesses during a difficult time. As restrictions lessen, this concept could make block parties a whole lot easier.

One of the most depressing sights of 2020 was community pools sitting idle in the dog days of summer. It was a reminder that kids couldn’t gather and play with their friends. Neighborhoods were quieter. Even families were kept apart. Amid the pandemic, we missed out on many of the hallmarks that make summer in the tri-states special.

Summer 2021 won’t quite be back to normal, but we’re making strides in the right direction. Officials in Dubuque and other cities have decided pools will open this summer, albeit with some modifications. That’s great news.

Get your sunscreen ready, it’s almost pool time.

Dubuque Telegraph Herald

Trending Video