DeGroot performing ‘externship’ at Anderson Conservation Area

Red Oak Schools science instructor Dan DeGroot is one of 82 teachers participating in the 2023 Iowa STEM Teacher Externships Program, which provides teachers the opportunity to work at local STEM businesses, nonprofits, government services and other workplaces to gain work experiences. He started his externship at the beginning of June. The program is roughly 200 hours.
DeGroot shared what led him to participate in the program and how it differs from an internship.
 “I wanted to have a different experience for the summer. When it comes to an externship, it’s for people like me who are not looking to change employment, we’re just looking to add to our experiences to bring back to the classroom, whereas an internship is a person trying to get their foot in the door in a particular industry,” commented DeGroot.
DeGroot is doing his externship at Montgomery County Conservation. He spoke about how he chose the conservation area for his externship project.

“I’m an outdoor person, and I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. Choosing Montgomery County Conservation Area gave me a chance to work with and be involved with something I appreciate. I also utilize the county parks, so this was a chance to kind of give back a little bit.”
One of his main projects is a plant diversity survey of the prairie are in the Anderson segment of the park. DeGroot is conducting a survey to assist in developing a management plan for the prairie with the goal of restoring the prairie to as natural and native a state as possible. He has also been assisting with teaching nature-oriented classes to elementary students as well as park maintenance. DeGroot highlighted the importance of the information from the survey.
“After I complete the plant survey and determine the different types of plants within the prairie, the conservation staff can develop a management plan that includes what portions of the prairie to burn to try and restore it, and what types of invasive species are there,” stated DeGroot.
DeGroot added one of the things he’s most enjoying about the externship is being able to work in a park setting, because it’s something he really enjoys.
DeGroot also issued a lot of praise to the staff at the Montgomery County Conservation Area.
“I’ve really enjoyed working out there. The staff are very dedicated and knowledgeable and work hard to make the conservation area among the best parks available, while also putting on great programs for the public,” DeGroot said.
Sixty-nine workplaces stepped up to host teacher-externs this summer. Those are some of the highest numbers since the program began.
This summer, the program is supported through state-appropriated funds and investments by Iowa business, industry and community partners, the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Education Program. This year’s contributions from workplace hosts total approximately $151,000, in addition to the STEM Council’s investment.
For more information about the Iowa STEM Teacher Externships Program, visit to view a map of all the externships taking place this summer.

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

Comment Here