Janelle and George McClain with Quin, Ana, Aldo and Silvia

4 Generations of Champions of Nature

50 Stories for 50 Years

is presented by New Leader Manufacturing

During its 50 years of existence Indian Creek Nature Center has had the privilege of knowing – so far – four generations of the McClain Family, starting with Carl “Mac” and Doris “Dodie” McClain, both of whom passed away some years ago. These days the McClain clan of Cedar Rapids is headed by George and Janelle, who have three children — Yara Conway, Logan McClain, and Quin McClain. All three children are now married with seven children altogether, ranging in age from three to twelve. All of George and Janelle’s grandchildren appreciate and enjoy time spent in nature, which is encouraged and nurtured by the kids’ parents and grandparents. We last profiled the McClain Family in the 2016 ICNC Annual Report. This update focuses primarily on the youngest generation.

The Yara & Joe Conway Family

Yara Conway volunteering with the boys at Monarch Fest
Yara Conway volunteering with the boys at Monarch Fest

Yara and Joe have three boys: Owen (12), Ethan (10) and Clayton (7). Yara takes the story from here. “With Owen, it takes a bit of coaxing to get him outside. He really likes the comforts of indoors! But once he’s outside, and in it, he really enjoys it. He tends to be the leader of hikes and likes noticing things, so once he’s out, he’s great. 

“Ethan could be outside all day. He loves playing in the neighborhood and running around, and likes to fish, and hike, and you name it. Clayton is constantly catching frogs in our little backyard pond. He loves to be outside with other kids. Yesterday they were playing with the frogs and getting so excited catching them and then putting them back in the pond and catching them again. Clayton also loves fishing, but he doesn’t like to hurt the fish, so he’s decided he just likes to go fishing with a net. 

“All three boys like to hike the trails at the Nature Center. We always seem to stop when we get to a pile of rocks, and they love to throw them. Nobody’s fallen in the water yet, but they like to get dirty and have a blast out there on the trails. The boys also go to Camp Wapsie every summer; it’s the highlight of their summer.

“Owen and Ethan love going on field trips to ICNC through their schools. I think part of it is because they already have a knowledge of the site. The Nature Center has been a part of our family, so they feel like they can be helpful leaders out there when they go. They may be able to answer questions. So they feel a little special, I think.

McClain family bench
When the entire family is together, they often visit their family bench on the ICNC trail system.

“The boys and I went to the Nature Center one day in June to participate in the BioBlitz. We were in the prairie, taking pictures, and the kids were spotting things. It was a lot of fun. The boys were wondering: ‘What’s going on? Why are we doing this?’ But they really got into it taking pictures of things that they didn’t know about, and then wanting to learn more about them. It was a good learning opportunity for all of us. It was also good that we were kind of forced to go to a different place than our normal, which is up in the hills.

“We enjoy seeing all the excitement that goes into Plant Sales and how there are lines of people there to support the Nature Center. But it’s also nice when we go out there and feel like we have the place to ourselves, too like on the trails. You see people occasionally, but it’s also nice to be alone with nature, and have that peace and calm. So you get both ends of (the spectrum) out there.”

Yara, who taught kindergarten for twelve years, currently volunteers at the boys’ schools when she’s not busy with all her “mom” and other roles. Her experience as an early childhood educator naturally makes her especially interested in ICNC’s Creekside Forest School (CFS). “I think it’s such a great program, philosophy and location. It’s awesome. I’ve thought it would be a fun way to be a teacher, too (with its nature focus). I am so envious of those kids that get to participate in it! My kids all missed the (age) cutoff.”

The Logan & Rebecca McClain Family

Logan and Rebecca have twin nine-year-old boys, Hans and Max. The family usually visits Cedar Rapids from their home in Portland, Oregon once or twice a year, including a lengthier visit in August. The boys enjoy being in nature and for years have participated in a trackers camp (in Portland) during school and summer breaks. They share great stories of the camp, which includes activities like fire building and sharpening sticks to make spears. When in Cedar Rapids they make time to go to the Nature Center with other McClains to visit trees planted in honor of family members and to take family photos.

The Quin & Ana McClain Family

Quin-Silvia McClain at tree planting
Quin with Silvia at the tree planted in her honor on Nature Center grounds.
Ana-Aldo-George McClain-tree planting
Ana McClain with Aldo at the tree planting sponsored by George and Janelle McClain.

Ana and Quin run Lion Bridge Brewing Company in Czech Village, through which they generously donate to and partner with the Nature Center. In fact, Ana who is a member of ICNC’s board of directors donated and provided all the food for a recent event serving nearly 90 people! Ana and Quin have two children, Aldo (6) and Silvia (3), both of whose names are inspired by nature and conservation. Aldo was named after the famous Iowa conservationist Aldo Leopold, and Silvia means “spirit of the woods.” 

Although Aldo and Silvia are still very young, they are veterans when it comes to Nature Center visits. Here’s Ana: “Both Aldo and Silvia love going to the Nature Center. Silvia specifically loves the turtles, as well as her classroom tree that was planted when she was a baby.”

Aldo shares, “I love going to the Indian Creek Nature Center for camps. I especially love walking around the creek, and the bonfire at the evening camp when I had s’mores. I like meeting with my friends there and playing outside.”

Ana adds, “Aldo loved every day at Fresh Air Academy. He asked to be enrolled again! He enjoyed being outside and connecting with new friends so much. Fresh Air Academy truly complements our family’s values regarding immersive, experiential nature experiences. We loved it and would sign up Aldo again.”

We at the Indian Creek Nature Center are grateful to continue the organization’s relationship with the McClain Family, which we hope to nourish and extend into the future. Thank you all for being a part of the ICNC family and for being Champions of Nature!

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