Ikes in Action: Students Learn about the League

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Sioux Empire Water Festival - credit Paul Lepisto

South Dakota >> On March 10 and 11, 2020, the Sioux Falls Chapter participated in the Sioux Empire Water Festival. Since 1994, the University of Sioux Falls has hosted this event, and for 25 years the Sioux Falls Chapter has staffed a display table.

This year, more than 1,500 students from 27 area schools participated in the event and most of them visited the Ikes’ booth. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the festival had to close at noon on the second day. More than 500 students from 11 area schools were unable to attend due to the early closure.

Four chapter members, along with IWLA Regional Conservation Coordinator Paul Lepisto, set up displays on the Clean Water Challenge, Save Our Streams and invasive species. One member brought his snapping turtle shell and an Alaskan Native polished and engraved baleen, which generated a lot of curious questions and interest in our club.

Every student that visited the booth received handouts that include information about the Clean Water Challenge and how to take a Stream Selfie and install the Aqua Bugs app on a smartphone.

Students are always encouraged to ask and answer questions and the ones that did participate were rewarded with a copy of “Outdoor America.” The zebra mussel display provoked a lot of questions with some students having first-hand knowledge of them from local swimming beaches. The chemical water test along with macroinvertebrate display generated many questions on how to determine water quality in a local stream. One of the volunteers has a master’s degree in aquatic biology, which is a great asset when answering questions about macroinvertebrates and invasive species.

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