‘Twist of fate’ brings Moyna to Wetlands Centre

Katrina Moyna, an Elkader native and 2012 Clarke University graduate, took over as the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre Director in early August. (Photo by Audrey Posten)


By Audrey Posten


According to Driftless Area Wetlands Centre Director Katrina Moyna, it was a twist of fate that brought her to her new position.


“My grandpa said to me, ‘Hey, there’s that new building outside Marquette. You should find out if they need anyone,’” Moyna recalled.


She contacted the Wetlands Centre, only to find they had recently filled the director position. However, just two weeks later, Moyna got a call informing her that the previous director had taken another job. That was Aug. 1, and Moyna has been learning and planning ever since.


Moyna, an Elkader native, graduated from Dubuque’s Clarke College in 2012 with a degree in biology. It was there, through an environmental sociology class, that her interest in biology and environmentalism began.


“That class just gave me a purpose,” she said. “It was about how we think and how our thoughts influence our actions and whether that hurts or helps the environment.”


Throughout college, Moyna also gained knowledge about food sovereignty, which includes learning about and cooking healthy, traditional foods. She worked at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, feeding the animals and cleaning their cages, as well as at the city of Dubuque, where she learned about the city’s sustainability indicators. She also worked at a campground for four years, which Moyna said will come in handy as the Wetlands Centre attempts to establish a campground of its own.


While she has the sustainability and biology background, Moyna said she is still learning about the educational aspect, but that the Wetlands Centre will provide her with plenty of wildlife, plant life and people from which to learn.


Moyna said she especially enjoys learning from the farmers who sell items at the Centre’s Friday Night Live Farmers Market.


“The farmers support each other,” she said, “and I love promoting those who grow food in a sustainable manner. They have a lot of knowledge about the things they grow. They are your neighbors and they look out for you and the food you eat.”


Moyna said she also loves planning. That is a good thing because, at the Wetlands Centre, there is a lot in the queue. While there are only two Friday Night Lives left, Moyna said the Wetlands Centre is considering a winter farmers market. She also plans to bring in students and teachers to learn about not just what the Wetlands Centre has to offer, but what learning opportunities other local environmental and outdoor entities, like Effigy Mounds, have to offer as well.


The area around the Wetlands Centre will eventually feature trails and more plant life—trees, shrubs and flowers—that will bring in more wildlife. (Now, visitors can see animals like deer, frogs and turtles.) With the addition of plants like milkweed, Moyna said the Monarch butterfly population should increase, then the Centre will be able to band them and track their migration.


Moyna said the trails will give kids the opportunity for free play exploration and sight based education accidental learning, a concept coined by Maiden Voyage Captain Robert Vavra. In other words, the kids can explore on their own and at their own pace, while learning a thing or two without even realizing it.


Moyna said she would also like to give visitors more opportunities to use their senses, specifically taste and touch.


“So many kids stroke the beaver tail,” Moyna said of one of the animals on display at the Wetlands Centre. “They like to touch.” 


For the tasting element, Moyna hopes to help older adults and youth to garden, as well as introduce people to cooking programs for food found in the wild, like cattails and milkweed, or even fish and deer.


Through all of these plans, Moyna hopes to make the Wetlands Centre financially sustainable and more attractive to tourists and locals alike. She also looks forward to continuing to make connections and share in peoples’ passions.


“There’s something new every day,” Moyna said of her time at the Wetlands Centre. “So many people know so much and are experts in an area. It’s so much fun to learn from them.”

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