Mary Carlson is a science teacher at Red Oak Schools in Red Oak, Iowa. Mary completed her Real World Externship with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) team in Lewis, Iowa.
Mary was immediately accepted as a full member of the team. They included her in every project they undertook this summer. Carlson said her experience was amazing and varied. As a member of the team she helped improve the water quality of our lakes and rivers by working with vegetation, which included starting a lily bed.
She helped determine the existing water quality by testing fish. Mary could be found netting fish one day or shocking them with electricity the next. After catching the fish the mercury levels are tested to ensure the quality of the water meets the DNR’s standards. Data collection is a large part of the DNR’s job and Mary helped not only with the collection but also with data organization.
As a teacher, Mary plans to use her new knowledge to engage her students in more outdoor activities. Her classes will be engaged in a water quality day with her local DNR representative. She also plans on having her students prepare a presentation for the DNR based on the question, “would you eat that?” when presented with a fish dinner. This will allow the students to get an expert’s feedback on their research. The students will also get to ask questions, find out what the DNR employees do and the schooling that is needed to get a job with the DNR.