Raul Alvarado had never heard of a bubble gum plant before. Actually called Swamp Milkweed, the pink flowering plant was
just one of the many plants and animals that the 14-year-old discovered on Thursday morning, August 2 during a visit to Nahant Marsh in Davenport. Alvarado was one of eleven members of the Quad Cities’ LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) Youth Council 600 who visited the marsh and education center as part of their summer activities.
“I didn’t know it actually smelled like it,” said Alvarado about the plant. “Most of [the plants and animals] I haven’t seen before.”
Nahant Marsh is a 513-acre site along the Mississippi River in southwest Davenport, home to over 400 kinds of plants and many varieties of wildlife including snakes, turtles, birds, beavers, river otters, coyotes and even bobcats.
“Just about any kind of mammal you can think of that’s in Iowa, you can find here,” says Nahant Marsh Facilitator Brian Ritter, who led the group on the tour.
Although the water in the marsh is at the lowest level in recent memory due to this summer’s drought, plenty of wildlife is still around.
“Going out on the dock and seeing the turtles out there- I saw four or five,” says Michael Alvarado, 15, Vice President of the LULAC Youth Council 600.
“We get to learn new things and have new experiences,” Alvarado says about the youth group’s activities.
After the tour of the marsh, the kids saw a few different reptiles up close in the classroom at the Nahant Marsh Educational Center.
“I hope that they’ll gain an appreciation for nature and grow up to be stewards [of the land],” says Ritter. “Or maybe spark a career.”
Educational field trips like the marsh visit are one of three focus areas for the LULAC youth group, in addition to community service and group mentoring.
“They seem to be enjoying it,” says Mike Reyes, President of the adult LULAC council 10, who was there chaperoning the trip. “These guys are real inquisitive.”
Earlier in the summer, the group toured a 4,000-acre dairy farm and next month they will volunteer and help run concessions at the Viva Quad Cities festival.