KIDSGAZETTE

The story behind Iowa's state quarter

The Iowa state quarter is seen in an undated image released by the U.S. Mint. The quarter will be officially unveiled Fr
The Iowa state quarter is seen in an undated image released by the U.S. Mint. The quarter will be officially unveiled Friday, Sept. 3, 2004, at the Iowa Capitol. (AP Photo/U.S. Mint)

In 1999, the United States Mint — the government agency that makes all of our money — decided to start producing a special quarter for every state.

The Iowa state quarter, released in 2004, features the image of a schoolhouse, with a teacher and her students planting a tree outside. The design was based on a painting by Grant Wood, the famous painter who lived in Cedar Rapids (and taught at McKinley Middle School!).

The state’s quarter design, according to the U.S. Mint, highlights our state’s commitment to education. By the time Iowa officially joined the United States in 1846, there already were many schools in the state. When the new quarter was released, then-Gov. Tom Vilsack said it was “a shining example of who we are and what we believe and what we can become.”

Hundreds of Iowa students went to the state Capitol in Des Moines to celebrate the release of the quarter in 2004, The Gazette reported, and many of the very first people to receive the Iowa quarter were Iowa kids.

Lots of people started trying to collect all 50 of the state quarters, and the coins were so popular the U.S. Mint started making unique quarters for national parks and other national landmarks. In 2017, they released a quarter with Iowa’s Effigy Mounds National Monument on it.

New designs are still coming out — a quarter commemorating the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas came out today!

Comments: molly.duffy@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.