# Parks

Republican policies fuel Iowa's workforce crisis, rural decline

Senator Joe Bolkcom represents Iowa City and is the ranking Democrat on the Iowa Senate Appropriations Committee.

Iowa’s workforce crisis and rural decline can be traced to irresponsible Republican tax and economic policies year after year.  

Their actions bring to life the words of their puppet master Grover Norquist, who famously said, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

As Governor Kim Reynolds and legislative Republicans return to the statehouse, their workforce crisis and abandonment of rural Iowa will only grow worse with more tax cuts for Des Moines millionaires. The Republican strategy is to stay the course by continuing to starve rural Iowa’s struggling public schools, exhausted health care providers, declining state parks, dangerous prisons, and neglected state resource centers. 

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Get outside and enjoy the nice weather

It’s shaping up to be a perfect weekend in Iowa, and you never know when the weather will turn. Why not get outside today? If you want to do something useful with your time, this weekend would be perfect for knocking on doors on behalf of the Democrat of your choice.

There are also some wonderful orchards to visit. We like the Wills Family Orchard in Dallas County, where you can pick your own pumpkins and buy organic fresh apples.

Or, just enjoy a public park or trail. Mr. desmoinesdem took the kids around the Gray’s Lake trail in Des Moines yesterday. They all had a great time and saw plenty of wildlife, including a blue heron.

I’ve written before about the “nature-deficit disorder” among American children who rarely play outside.

On Thursday the House of Representatives passed a bill to provide for more hands-on outdoor environmental education in schools. The Sierra Club welcomed the action:

September 18, 2008

Contact: David Willett, 202-675-6698

House Votes to Get Kids Outside

Bill Would Create New Opportunities for Environmental Education

Washington, D.C.-Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted to expand and improve the opportunities for children and adolescents to learn about and experience the natural world. Hands-on outdoor environmental education offers an opportunity to improve academic performance in our schools and provides a solution for reversing the trends of childhood obesity and “nature deficit disorder” that are afflicting a generation.

“Today’s vote signifies a new national commitment to youth and the environment. Right now children are spending their days inside and their evenings and weekends plugged into electronic media,” says Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “They are missing out on the daily childhood joy of playing outside that their parents’ took for granted just twenty years ago.”

Research shows that when children spend time outdoors, they are more physically active, engage in more creative forms of play and are better focused. Environmental education contributes to significant improvements in academic performance and motivation to learn. It also leads to student gains in problem-solving skills, conflict resolution abilities, and self-esteem. Opportunities for youth to get outdoors to exercise, play and experience their natural world are critical to help prevent obesity, alleviate symptoms of attention deficit disorders and address other related health problems.

The No Child Left Inside Act of 2008, HR 3036

The No Child Left Inside Act of 2008, sponsored by John P. Sarbanes (D-MD) along with sixty-four co-sponsors, would support local and statewide efforts to expand and improve environmental education for K-12 public schools. This legislation would provide needed support to States to develop scientifically sound curriculum, train teachers, and ensure students are environmentally literate upon high school graduation.

“Today’s youth will be asked to tackle severe environmental challenges as adults, yet American children are not being provided with the foundation needed to address these challenges,” says Pope. “Environmental education today will provide the foundation necessary for tomorrow’s workforce to effectively address real world environmental challenges.”

But if you’ve got kids, you don’t need to wait for Congress to act. Take advantage of beautiful days like today and get your family outside.

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Congratulations to Erv Klaas of Ames

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation recently announced that Erwin "Erv" Klaas is the 2008 winner of the Hagie Heritage Award, given to recognize outstanding conservation work in Iowa. I am fortunate to know him, and I am thrilled to see the INHF honoring his contributions to the environment statewide and particularly in the Ames area.

I've posted the text of the INHF's press release after the jump.

Klaas will formally receive the award at an open house on Sunday, Sept. 28, beginning at 2:30 pm at the Story County Nature Center in McFarland Park, 56461 180th Street in Ames. The public is welcome to attend this event.

All five nominees for the Hagie award were remarkable, and you can click here to learn more about the other finalists.

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