Threshold Learning Center - Zearing, Iowa
Why Outdoor Education?

Why are TLC's programs so important to students? Students in grades 4th-8th come to TLC and learn in a very informal setting with hands-on activities, enhancing their skills for critical thinking, problem solving and environmentally-sound decision making. It is the hope of TLC that the students will have developed an environmental ethic that remains with them throughout their lives. The social and personal growth that students gain about their classmates, their instructor and themselves in an overnight situation is what really makes residential experiences so unique. It can sometimes be the highlight of a child's education. Many of the children who come to TLC have never been out of their city's limits. We offer these urban students an opportunity to "escape" and learn in a new way at TLC, giving them a glimpse of the sky they may never have noticed in the city.

"...the stars are fading from view, and the reason is severe light pollution. A recent study revealed that the Milky Way can no longer be seen by two thirds of the world's population."
-Les Line, Audubon

We at TLC have seen this fact first-hand. Antionne, who came to one of our overnight programs from inner-city Des Moines, was horseback riding and we asked if he was having fun. We meant riding the horse, but he replied, "Awe, yeah. I've never been on a horse, I've never been in a canoe, I've never hiked, or seen a deer, or slept in a bunk bed, or ate smores, or even been at a campfire. But mostly, I've never seen the stars...I hope I can see 'em again sometime." He hopes. His world had been expanded and he now knows that there is more out there than his neighborhood in the city.

We believe that there is a need in this fast-paced life for people to slow down and re-connect. At TLC, our programs remind one of their connection to the Earth, the natural community, where they come from, where their food comes from and even to the stars above them. An overnight in our barn and a day of programs will help a student realize what life was like in simpler times. It may have been a harder life in the late 1800's, but it may also have been more rewarding. Our hands-on activities can take some students much farther in their understanding than reading a book - especially the right-brained learner. We all learn in different ways and, at times, a formal classroom can completely alienate a student. That is where TLC can help. Several studies have shown that hands-on learning is the only way a right-brained tudent can learn and more importantly retain what he/she has just learned. "Tell me, and I will forget; Show me, and I may remember; Involve me and I will understand."