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Welcome to Threshold Learning Center

Threshold Learning Center (TLC) is a non-profit organization offering nature, science, and Iowa History programs to schools in Central Iowa.    

Our primary focus is our Residential Field Schools For Youth. Classes come for 3 days/2 nights, participate in “school” for 9 hours during the day, and sleep in the Barn Dormitory at night. 

During the summer, we offer a wide variety of Day Camps, conduct several overnight Family Camps, and provide trips around the country for Junior High and High School students.

Free family events for the public are held seasonally at the site.     

We offer After-School Programs for local students in 3rd to 6th grade. They have fun playing outdoors, making healthy snacks, getting homework help, and doing several community service projects. 

Who We Are and What We Do


     Threshold Learning Center (TLC) is a non-profit organization established by a family of educators with a combined 75 years of experience in the classroom and outdoor education facilities. Providing science, recreation, and nature education at separate locations for several years, the family decided to work together to provide quality science programs in an informal setting. For fifteen years, the family successfully developed and revitalized outdoor education facilities and camps for other non-profit organizations in Southern California and Iowa. However, the goals of these organizations often fell short of the family's personal educational goals. So, in November of 2001, they officially incorporated their different strengths and created Threshold Learning Center, an organization that would always place student experience first.

     Educational programs were delivered in classrooms until the organization obtained 26 acres in October of 2002.  Located on the northeast corner of Zearing, it is centrally located to various school districts. Twelve new members from the surrounding area have since joined the Board of Directors. We have planted nearly 1,200 trees, blazed trails, built a team obstacle course, started a Memorial Garden, established prairie and wetland habitats, cleared a campsite and fire ring, and moved an indoor classroom and barn to the site. In May of 2006, renovations to establish the barn as an overnight dormitory for both students and visitors to Zearing began. Completed in 2012, the barn now hosts everything from educational programs, meals to the community, overnight birthday parties and camps, to retreats, reunions, and weddings. 

     TLC's primary objective is to provide quality programs for schools from across the state. Our 5 day/4 night program was fundamentally developed for middle school students, offering an in-depth study of Astronomy, Geology, Archaeology and Iowa History, Ecology, and Environmental Science. We individualize programs to accommodate any age, and the length of each program can be increased or decreased to meet the needs of each school group.

In addition to our residential Field School programs, TLC also offers:

  • Several nature and science programs that can be brought to the school classroom.

  • Continuing education programs for adults, teachers, college students, and families.

  • After-school programs for students grades 3-6.

  • Birthday and slumber parties for any age.

  • Team Building and Challenge Course activities for schools, sport teams, and corporations. This includes handicap accessible climbing equipment.

  • Free seasonal festivals and programs open to the public.

  • Weekend retreats for families, artists, knitters, youth groups, etc. in our barn dormitory that include “Bed & Breakfast” hospitality and educational programs upon request.

  • The barn & site may also be rented for weddings, reunions, or graduations parties.

  • Dorm rooms can be rented as overnight accommodations for families visiting Zearing or Dakins Lake or for a family get-away.


A fire ring fit for any celebration!


Our lovely community garden with our program center and barn in the background!


A chair lift in our barn so anyone and everyone can come upstairs and enjoy the food and celebrations!!


A beautiful view from our memorial garden!


Getting down and dirty at our summer mud camp!


Fun at the fall festival includes hay rack rides!




Wednesday meals cooked and served by our After School kids!


Our summer Putt-Putt golf course!


We have many beautiful spaces here, including our prairie restoration on the north end of TLC!!

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