Conservation Station in Ada Hayden Park

Matt Helmers, associate professor of agriculture and biosystems engineering, talks to a crowd of homeschool children about a rainfall simulation Thursday at Ada Hayden Park. The simulator, part of the Conservation Station, gives visitors the chance to see how rainfall turns to runoff and subsurface drainage on different types of soil composition.

Logan Gaedke

The Conservation Station, a mobile learning platform for soil and water conservation, was unveiled Thursday at Ada Hayden Park to a crowd of Ames homeschool children.

Jerry Dewitt, director of the Leopold Center, gave a speech to thank those who donated to and helped bring the project to completion. Dewitt and members of the Iowa Learning Farm believe Iowa has a great deal of natural beauty, but it needs to be maintained more effectively than it has been. 

The front section of the Conservation Station will be a learning tool that offers an interactive multimedia experience. Photographs, art, music and video are used to teach visitors about how soil and water interact in various situations.

The rear section of the station folds out with a rainfall simulator that gives visitors the chance to see how rainfall runoff and drainage accumulate. Samples currently range from bare soil to plant matter and grasses, with solid concrete and modular paver blocks in the works. 

The Iowa Learning Farm has already booked more than 50 showings across the state, at places such as county fairs and farmers’ markets, and expects to have many more to come. Visitors can stop in at the Conservation Station locations for free.