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Year: 2022

Citation:

Jan Aiels served as an educator for 24 years at the Indian Creek Nature Center (ICNC), Iowa’s only nonprofit, independently operated nature center, which opened in 1974. When Jan retired in 2016, the educational programs and field trips she developed served 14,000 children each year.  Amid the utter turmoil brought by the Eastern Iowa flooding in the summer of 2008 -– when 10 square miles of Cedar Rapids was under water, 10,000 residents displaced (including 1,800 elementary students), and Indian Creek itself ravaged the surrounding floodplain -– it seemed impossible that the Nature Center’s scheduled summer camps for kids could take place. But Jan Aiels would not cancel. She insisted that our community’s children desperately needed to be with other kids, experiencing an aspect of nature that wasn’t destructive. So that June, Jan had a big tent erected and the camps went forward! This story is just one of many told by colleagues to give a clear idea of Jan’s dedication to her mission -– and the mission of Nature Center. From her first connection with ICNC as a volunteer and Teacher Naturalist to her role upon retirement as the full-time Director of Education, Jan inspired children and youth to become what the Nature Center now refers to as "champions of nature."

 
 

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