In 2010, Julia Slocum served on a Conservation Corps Iowa crew based in her hometown of Ames, but traveled all over the state and into Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska and North Dakota. Spiking most of the time, she got to see many amazing places such as Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and the Sand Hills near Valentine, Nebraska. But her favorite places were the little pockets of woodlands, hidden goat prairies and somehow-magically-preserved prairies in the midst of cornfields.
Julia spent a lot of time removing invasives and conducting prairie and woodland burns but what has left the deepest impression on her is how she came to see her home state in a new way. She saw plants and creatures she didn’t know were native, such as smooth green snakes, tree frogs, salamanders, birds, insects and delicate prairie flowers. “I really just fell in love with my home for the first time,” she said. “By the end [of my term] I knew for certain that this was exactly where I wanted to set my roots.”
Her experience in the Corps prepared her to run the vegetable farm that she started almost two years ago. Doing the hard work of the Corps broke a lot of mental barriers in what she thought of her own abilities and her beliefs about conservation. She found she was not only capable of doing physical work outside in all seasons but thrived in those conditions, feeling healthier and more confident about her dream to eventually run her farm, Lacewing Acres. In her second growing season, she supplied 40 families through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and sold at the farmers' market in Ames. Next year she’ll be certified organic and growing for close to 70 families.