Inspirational and Immersive Learning at Lakeside Lab

posted by Guest Blogger on Friday, August 12, 2022

Students hikingThis past summer I had the pleasure of taking a course at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Okoboji, Iowa. Located right on the west side of West Okoboji Lake, Lakeside is a research station that offers field opportunities to students and scientists alike.  

I took Aquatic Ecology with Dr. Paul Weihe. It was an enriching class that taught me both practical and technical skills to use in the field. My classmates and I gained firsthand experience working with freshwater ecosystems in and around Lakeside, taking samples and data using the very same tools that professional ecologists use. We took water chemistry data, examined aquatic biota, and discussed the physical aspects of different ecosystems.  

Teacher pointingMy personal favorite experience of the class was our field trip to Iowa’s only bog, Dead Man’s Bog, in Pilot Knob State Park. This unique ecosystem not only taught me about the intricacies of water chemistry and biota interactions, but also inspired my love for the natural world around me. Our search for Sundew plants and our delight at finding dragonflies, amphibians, and jumping on the peat mat below us inspires you to find the joy in nature. 

FrogOther classes available at Lakeside include ornithology, archeology, and the famous diatoms class, just to name a few. Teachers from diverse subjects stay alongside students for an immersive learning experience and community that is unlike any other. It is a beautiful experience to sit down to a meal with an expert in algae research and be able to hear their knowledge while forming a friendly relationship at the same time.  

PlantsClasses aren’t the only thing going on at Lakeside, either. Among the students also live interns and artists, and resident researchers, all working on projects inspired by the field station. Artists stay and experience the lake alongside students in order to gain inspiration for their work, while students have the opportunity to see their art. Researchers enlist interns to help with their long-term projects, on things such as wetland restoration, weed removal, and lake health.  

Lakeside is a beautiful campus that is open to the public to come enjoy the trails and see scientists hard to work. 

Alena Gamble

Alena Gamble lives in Ames and goes to school at Iowa State University. They are majoring in Environmental Science with the hopes of making a difference in the climate crisis.

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