Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It is always a special delight to visit the beautiful grounds of the Lakeside Lab, especially at this time of year when summer is in full bloom. Today’s gathering is a special delight as well, as we thank you, the Friends of Lakeside Lab, for your vision and generosity in supporting this unique and remarkable institution.

Dr. Thomas Macbride, who with his colleagues founded the Lakeside Lab in 1909, was not only an extraordinary scientist, but also a great humanist. At the time, his botany courses were the most popular liberal arts and sciences courses of all throughout the entire University. According to students of the time, Dr. Macbride’s “botany was more than the study of plants: it was life and truth and beauty.”

That integrated spirit of science, life, truth, and beauty lives on today as the Lakeside Lab continues its mission of “the study of nature in nature.” The University of Iowa is proud to collaborate with our sister Regents institutions and the Friends to continue the Lab’s tradition of unique educational and cultural opportunities, not only for our University students, but for all Iowans and all visitors to this beautiful campus.

The variety of programming we participate in here is astonishing. We offer field courses to Regent university students and others in a full-immersion format not available on our campuses. We help provide many programs for professionals, local residents, and vacationing families: evening environmental programs, youth camps, an annual training workshop for early-learning providers, special programs such as the first Iowa appearance of the David Rogers Big Bugs outdoor sculpture exhibition during the 2009 centennial celebration, and project-based learning programs for local primary and secondary schools. We cooperate with the local economic development group, the other Regents universities, and two local colleges on the annual Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute. And we cooperate in common courses offered by the Regents universities and Drake University.

Science and service, of course, remain at the forefront of our activities here at the Lakeside Lab. We have re-established the Bovbjergwater analysis lab in cooperation with the State Hygienic Lab at our research park in Iowa City/Coralville. We collaborate with the Department of Natural Resources, the Student Conservation Association, and local nonprofits to staff an aquatic invasive species prevention program. And the Lab was the site for the 2009 North American Diatom Symposium, which presents the latest research on this common type of phytoplankton.

In this selected list of activities, the words “collaboration” and “cooperation” pop up over and over again. This is one of the most wonderful aspects of the Lakeside Lab—the opportunities it provides for working together for the benefit of all. The Friends of the Lakeside Lab have been among the most important partners in these collaborative efforts for many years.

From the scholarships and staff salary subsidy you provide, to the writer-in-residence program here, your role in the study, life, truth, and beauty of this important institution is central. We thank you for all you have done for the Lakeside Lab, in upholding its legacy as well as developing its future. We at the University of Iowa are proud to be your partner.