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A Sense of Wonder Across Generations

Biologist Rachel Carson once pointed out that "a child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder....If I had influence with the good fairy I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life." She advised that a child have an adult who can share the inborn sense of wonder we are all granted at birth. This magic has been happening at Big Rock Park.

Above; naturalist Marla Mertz shares her love of the natural world with college students at Big Rock.

The legacy of Big Rock is one that has been passed from one generation to another and with it, an appreciation of nature's beauty and diversity. It's the perfect outdoor classroom for these beautiful autumn days.

On October 14, 2022, Marion County Naturalist Marla Mertz answered questions from Mary Stark’s Central College class of citizen science about the insects and arachnids found in Big Rock Park. The college juniors and seniors read one of Marla’s articles about Marion County, “Insect Retirement? Really?” in which she discusses how insects survive Iowa's harsh winters. They noted her content, filled with information about insects and her style. Here is how the article begins:

Just as spring abounds with new life, fall seems to be neck-and-neck in the rush of creature retirement. Like it or not, insects and spiders are the most abundant creatures on earth. In Iowa, hundreds of different species of insects, including important pollinators, have ventured from egg to adult, worked all summer to help us prepare food resources and are now preparing for spring regrowth (laying eggs), retirement, and death.

Some insects go through a period of time that improves their chances of survival. They cannot eat, reproduce, or move around. Their physical functions are slowed down as if they are in a deep sleep. We refer to this as dormancy. Overwintering insects may be hiding in leaf litter, under the bark of a tree, or deep into the soil. Many insects perish.

The student are now writing their own articles about a sense of wonder in the natural world. In addition, they will be sharing their research in a presentation with seventh graders in Kristin Schulz’s Pella Middle School class; the Pella seventh graders will also share their individual research and service problem-solving projects relating to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development .

We're looking forward to reading those articles and delighted to see the younger generation holding fast to their sense of wonder.


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