Two young people from eastern Iowa traveled to Des Moines Thursday to lobby for continued state funding of regional improvement plans for state and local parks. Rachel Wentworth, a sophomore at Maquoketa High School, said parks give “town and city kids” a chance to enjoy what “country kids” like her “see every day.”
“I live on a farm that has been in the family since 1853,” she said. “My brother and my grandpa have inspired my love for nature.”
Wentworth said her generation is more into playing video games than experiencing the great outdoors, but she argued great parks could lure them away from the devices.
“For example, my cousins…(are) into playing electronics,” Wentworth said. “…They got in trouble, so they got their electronics taken away from a week. They were forced to go outside and play, but they learned to love it and explore and so now they choose to go outside and they love being out there and they want to spend the night outside all the time.”
Wentworth made her pitch for parks to Governor Branstad, the governor’s chief of staff and his budget director during a budget hearing at the statehouse late Thursday afternoon. Nicholas Hockenberry is a “young professional” from Dubuque who is working with the group that got the first state grant for park improvement projects in Jones, Jackson and Dubuque Counties and he spoke to the governor and his staff, too.
“I’m an active climber, canoer, kayaker — those kind of things,” Hockenberry said. “I’m also interested in diverse cultural events as well and our region to offer.”
The $1.9 million grant was awarded in September to the three northeast Iowa counties and some of that money will be used to build new cabins at the four state-owned parks in the region. Hockenberry is urging state policymakers to continue the state grant program this next year, so other another area of the state can get money to spruce up and expand outdoor recreation areas. Hockenberry said quality outdoor activities are important to “young professionals” like him.
Photo courtesy of the Iowa DNR.