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Children’s Forest features a new crawly friend

Caterpillar sculpture installed at Kennedy Park

-Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs
A new sculpture of a large caterpillar has been installed in the Children’s Forest at Kennedy Park.

Visitors to the Children’s Forest at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park will now be greeted by a giant black, white, and yellow caterpillar sculpture.

“We’re trying to make it more user friendly and kid friendly. We want people to come out here and utilize it a little bit more. It’s not art that kids can’t touch,” said Webster County Conservation Naturalist Erin Ford.

Artist Tim Adams of Webster City created the piece by welding propane tanks together, then painting it and adding details such as the antennas and a leaf in the caterpillar’s mouth.

“Every kid in Fort Dodge learns about monarch butterflies and the metamorphosis, so we thought it would be kind of fun to start with something that everybody knows,” said Ford.

The Children’s Forest was originally planned and developed beginning in 1962 and has changed over the years. Initially, it was about 30 acres of shrubs and hundreds of trees to serve as living memorials to honor people who had passed.

Mina Landes, who passed away in September of this year, was instrumental in cultivation and care of the trees and shrubs in the Children’s Forest. Landes and several volunteers donated countless hours and financial support to the development of the Children’s Forest.

In 2020, the .3 mile Storywalk Trail was added with story stations along the trail. Visitors can walk the trail at their own pace and pause at each station to read the next bit of a nature-themed children’s book. The story is changed seasonally and Ford said it is a fun way for children to learn about nature.

The Children’s Forest also features several wood carvings of characters from “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss. The sculptures were created by Gary Keenan, a chainsaw sculptor from Des Moines from ash trees in the Children’s Forest that had died from the Emerald Ash Borer.

Ford said the conservation team plans to continue to add more to the Children’s Forest in the coming years. She said they are considering adding more sculptures to complete the butterfly life cycle.

Ford said the conservation group is happy with the caterpillar piece and hope people come out to see it. “It turned out to be a fun piece and you definitely can’t miss it when you pull up,” she said.

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