Building a Conservation Classroom
Back in July 2009, during the Izaak Walton League’s national convention in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Roger Parham was educating young people about water quality and conservation using the League’s Save Our Streams program. It was a classic sunny, hot, and humid South Dakota summer day — and it quickly became apparent that something was missing from the program. Parham, a retired high school teacher, realized that they needed an outdoor classroom tailored to programs such as Save Our Streams.
Parham approached the Sioux Falls Chapter’s Board of Directors with the idea and worked with the Minnehaha Conservation District on a location. He worked with both groups to acquire funding and building supplies. Parham designed the facility himself based on his experiences educating youth and families. It wasn’t long before the outdoor classroom was finished and ready for use.
The outdoor classroom’s roof provides shade and protection from rain, while the open design allows for 360-degree views. There are benches to sit on, and the end of the platform is left open to allow access to the water.
In keeping with the Izaak Walton League’s commitment to educating youth, the classroom welcomes not only League programs but other groups ranging from Scout troops to school groups and curious citizens. The classroom was built at the Dewey Gevik Outdoor Conservation Learning Area — a 100-acre outdoor educational center managed by the Minnehaha Conservation District.
Save Our Streams needed a facility. Roger Parham recognized that and designed a classroom tailored to the needs of Save Our Streams and several other outdoor programs. With a thoughtful design and ideal setting, the outdoor classroom will be used and enjoyed for years to come.
— Cara Thuringer, Sioux Falls Chapter