Prairie Rivers of Iowa RC&D hosts Kids on the Byway Program, which is funded by REAP-Conservation Education Program. The Kids on the Byway Program is for area students to take what they learn in the classroom to the next level, connecting them with experts in various fields of science and social studies and linking them to resources along the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway. Prairie Rivers of Iowa manages the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway in Iowa for the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Kids on the Byway culminates in three "capstone events" throughout the year for each of three schools: fifth graders at Kate Mitchell Elementary in Ames, fourth graders at Meeker Elementary in Ames, and fifth graders North Tama Elementary in Traer. The first and third capstone events take place at the various resources along the byway, including numerous departments at Iowa State University, historical museums in Boone, and resource plants in Ames. The second round of capstone events for each of the school took place indoors, where experts along the byway came into the classroom.

Kate Mitchell’s winter capstone event focused on enhancing the students’ unit on Westward Movement. The experts for the Kids on the Byway capstone event were Pam Schwartz from the Boone Historical Society, Mike Wendel from the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad Museum, and Bob & Joyce Ausberger from the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association. Each of the speakers engaged students in the various aspects of Westward Movement, including transportation during and after the Westward Movement in America.

Bob and Joyce Ausberger also started a contest among the fifth graders at Kate Mitchell that entailed prizes, including a Lincoln Highway T-shirt and a Lincoln Highway map pack. The contest was designed to give the students a new way of learning and thinking about the Lincoln Highway. Bob and Joyce introduced topics during their presentation that gave the students a background in byways and the history of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway. For the next week, students worked on projects that they thought represented the Lincoln Highway. They could draw a picture, write a poem, or make another artistic creation relating to the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway.

After collecting the submissions, Magon Liu (Kids on the Byway Coordinator) and Kayla Hasper (Kids on the Byway Assistant) judged the entries to declare winners in each of the two classes. From Mrs. Marten’s class, the winners were Trinity Engelhardt and Alexis Wilkinson. From Mrs. Mongar’s class, the winners were Karla Torres and Chastity Wilson. The winning projects included two drawings of Lincoln Highway road markers, a song that showed Lincoln Highway pride, and a clay model of the original Lincoln Highway markers. Each winner was awarded a Lincoln T-shirt donated by the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association.

Overall, the students enjoyed this creative way of learning about the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway. The Kids on the Byway Program was created to provide authentic learning environments and effective, unique opportunities for students to grasp the concepts that are presented in their studies. This contest, created by Bob and Joyce Ausberger, strongly fits the concepts to enhance the Kids on the Byway Program.

About Prairie Rivers of Iowa

Prairie Rivers of Iowa is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization committed to strengthening Iowa’s communities through the responsible stewardship of our natural resources. We manage the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway for the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Iowa Byways program. Prairie Rivers of Iowa’s programs help Iowans conserve our state’s natural and historical resources to enrich the lives of current and future generations. To learn more, please visit www.prrcd.org.