Iowa Lakeside Laboratory

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Iowa Lakeside Laboratory is run cooperatively by the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory Consortium whose members include Drake University, Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, and the University of Iowa. Lakeside courses can be taken for credit through all Consortium members. Students should check with their advisors to determine whether Lakeside courses can be used to satisfy major or minor requirements or college or university general education requirements.

The Laboratory was established in 1909 for the conservation and study of the rich flora and fauna of northwest Iowa, especially those of the Iowa Great Lakes region with its numerous lakes, wetlands, and prairies. Its campus is located on approximately 140 acres of restored prairie, wetland, and gallery forest along the west shore of West Okoboji Lake. Lakeside’s mission is to provide undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to get hands-on experience working with a variety of natural and human environments through its field-oriented summer courses and to provide research facilities and support for graduate students and faculty working on research projects in northwestern Iowa. Each summer, Iowa Lakeside Laboratory offers students a unique educational experience: small, full-immersion, field-oriented courses in the natural sciences (archaeology, ecology, environmental science, hydrology, evolution, geology, soils, taxonomy). All courses meet all day from Monday through Friday. The majority of courses run for 4 weeks. Enrollments in most courses are limited to 8 to 10 students.

Courses are taught at the undergraduate (sophomore and junior) and the senior/graduate level. Students obtain one credit for each week (40 hours) in class. One and two week courses are also available, including courses designed especially for teachers. Weather permitting, students normally spend at least part of each day doing field work, either as part of their class work or working on individual or group projects. Because some courses are offered intermittently, the current Iowa Lakeside Laboratory summer brochure or the Lakeside Lab Website ( should be consulted for the list of courses being offered in a given summer session. The Lakeside Lab Website ( also contains additional information about the Laboratory and about each course being offered.

Research projects by undergraduates, graduate students and faculty can be done either on the campus or at many nearby natural areas. Undergraduate and graduate students are strongly encouraged to do independent projects at Lakeside and graduate students are welcome to use it as a base for their thesis and dissertation research. Laboratory space and other facilities are available for long-term or short-term research projects.

Teaching and research facilities include eight laboratory buildings, a library, and a lecture hall. Living accommodations include cottages, motel-style units, and a large mess hall. All students are encouraged to stay at Lakeside while they are taking courses to take full advantage of its educational, professional, and social life.

Financial Aid

Iowa Lakeside Laboratory Scholarships are available to both undergraduates and graduate students. All scholarships cover room and board. Information about how to apply for Iowa Lakeside Laboratory Scholarships is included on the Website ( Students should also consult the Student Financial Aid Office for other scholarship, work study, and loan programs for which they are eligible.


Students can only enroll in Iowa Lakeside Lab courses by submitting an Iowa Lakeside Lab Registration and Scholarship form and Housing form to the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory Administrative Office. These forms are found on the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory Website:(

Early registration is advisable. Because enrollment in Lakeside courses is limited, students should register before May 1 for the following summer session. Housing is also limited and students must apply for housing or indicate that they plan to live off campus at the time of registration.


Iowa Lakeside Laboratory is an off-campus teaching and research facility situated on a 140-acre campus on West Okoboji Lake in Northwest Iowa. It is run cooperatively by Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, the University of Northern Iowa, and Drake University. Each summer Iowa State University students can take up to three undergraduate and/or graduate courses in archaeology, biology, ecology, environmental science, and/or geology for credit at Lakeside (see course listings under Iowa Lakeside Laboratory). All Lakeside courses are small, full-immersion, field-oriented courses that run for 1-4 weeks. Lakeside also offers a variety of short courses for teachers and a series of nontechnical short courses on various aspects of the natural history of Iowa. Information about Lakeside courses as well as registration and housing information can be obtained from the Biology Program Office, 103 Bessey Hall or on the Lakeside Web site,