Prairie Perspective #1: Prairie and the Entomologist. Friday, September 8th: 5:00 p.m. This September join us for three walks through a tallgrass prairie. Each hike is led by a different presenter, each with their own emphasis. This first hike will be with entomologist Moni Hayne. She’ll introduce participants to some of the common insect species and their role in the prairie ecosystem. Meets at the nature center in Jefferson County Park prior to heading out to the prairie. The hike will be at a slow pace but may be over uneven ground and occasionally off trail. Participants should expect to be out in full sun so a hat with a brim is recommended. No fee. Pre-registration is NOT required.
Birding 101: Birds Along a Wetland. Saturday, September 9th: 3:00 p.m. Join birdwatching.com’s Diane Porter and naturalist Therese Cummiskey at the Lamson Woods Parking lot located southeast of Fairfield at the intersection of Fillmore Ave and Mint Blvd. We’ll take a leisurely stroll through the Neff Wetlands and learn about some of the species of birds found there. This class is designed for the novice to intermediate birders. No fee or registration required. Please bring binoculars if you have them.
Prairie Perspective #2: Prairie and the Naturalist. Tuesday, September 12th: 5:00 p.m. This September join us for three walks through a tallgrass prairie. Each hike is led by a different presenter, each with their own emphasis. This second hike will be with naturalist Therese Cummiskey. Her view of the prairie involves a mix of cultural and natural history plus information of some of the grasses and forbs found there. Meets at the nature center prior to heading out to the prairie. The hike will be at a slow pace but may be over uneven ground and occasionally off trail. Participants should expect to be out in full sun so a hat with a brim is recommended. No fee. Pre-registration is NOT required.
Monarch Migration: Lake Sugema. Sunday, September 17th at 5:00 p.m. Monarch butterflies cannot survive our cold Iowa winters, instead they travel up to 3000 miles south to forests high in the mountains of Mexico. We will be assisting with monarch research by catching some of these migrating butterflies, placing a small tag on their wing, recording their information and releasing them to continue on their journey. These tags help researchers learn about the migration of the monarch. The exact location of this event will be determined as the event approaches based on nectaring plants in bloom so participants should plan to arrive at the north boat ramp at Lake Sugema by 5:00 p.m. in order to carpool to the location. Nets and tags will be provided but please wear long pants and tennis shoes. Registration is NOT required. This is an official Des Moines River Water Trails event co-sponsored by the Iowa DNR and Jefferson County Conservation.
Monarch Tagging at Jefferson County Park. Tuesday, September 19th: 5:30 p.m. Join us for a fun evening of catching, tagging and releasing monarch butterflies as they begin their annual migration. Meets at the Jefferson County Park Nature Center for a short introduction before heading into a prairie in the park. Pre-registration is NOT required for this free program. All ages are welcome but children under the age of 16 need to be supervised by an adult. Please wear long pants and tennis shoes. For more information, please call (641)-472-4421 or email email@example.com.
Prairie Perspective #3: Prairie and the Vegetation Manager. Thursday, September 21st: 5:00 p.m. This September join us for three walks through a tallgrass prairie. Each hike is led by a different presenter, each with their own emphasis. This third hike will be with Shawn Morrissey, Vegetation Manager with Jefferson County Conservation. His duties include managing over 1100 acres of timber and prairie. Come learn about the work he does with tallgrass prairie. Meets at the nature center prior to heading out to the prairie. The hike will be at a slow pace but may be over uneven ground and occasionally off trail. Participants should expect to be out in full sun so a hat with a brim is recommended. No fee. Pre-registration is NOT required.
Iowa’s Freshwater Mussels. Saturday, September 30: 2:00 p.m. Freshwater mussels may not be the first animal that comes to mind when you think of Iowa’s rivers, but they are very important to stream ecology and biodiversity. Presenter Vance Polton, a DNR fisheries technician, will reveal the fascinating life cycle of these animals, help with identification of the various species, and explain their role in the life of a river. No fee and pre-registration is not required. Meets at the nature center in Jefferson County Park.
Naturalist Stroll. Sunday, October 8: 4:00 p.m. Come take a fall hike with naturalists Therese Cummiskey and Brittney Tiller. Enjoy the autumn colors and learn about what nature has to offer in October. Family friendly. No fee. No registration necessary. Meets at the backstop in the picnic area in Jefferson County Park.
Village Life. Saturday, October 14th from 11:30 a.m.—1:30 p.m. This family friendly event gives kids a chance to try their hand at the chores that would have been done in Iowa 2,000 years ago by the Native Americans. An introduction will be given at 11:30 a.m. and then participants will have an opportunity to rotate through various chores and tasks once done by children their age. You don’t have to be a child to participate but all children must be accompanied by an adult. Meets at the Pearson House in Keosauqua: 718 Dodge Street. Pre-registration is NOT required. This is an official Des Moines River Water Trails event co-sponsored by the Iowa DNR and Jefferson County Conservation.
Iowaville Cemetery Tours. Saturday, October 14th: 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Come along as the history of one of Iowa’s most interesting cemeteries is shared! Historian Mike Zahs will be telling of the rich history of this fascinating little cemetery which is now the only sign left of the once thriving town of Iowaville. Pre-registration is required. (Call 641-919-6822 or email firstname.lastname@example.org) Due to limited parking space at the cemetery, participants will meet at the Log Cabin in the Selma City Park before carpooling to the cemetery.
October Birding. Saturday, October 21: 8:00 a.m. Calling all birders! Grab your binoculars and meet at the Jefferson County Park nature center for a fall bird hike. We’ll take a leisurely stroll along the entrance road and through the prairie to see what we can find. No fee or registration required.
Basket Making: Kitchen Basket. Saturday, October 21: 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. This oval, low-sided basket will sit nicely in the corner of your kitchen counter. The sides will weave up quickly but it is the base, with it’s split-spoke technique, that will be the challenge. Space is limited so pre-registration is required by e-mailing email@example.com. Takes place in the nature center at Jefferson County Park. Fee: $10.00.
Annual Fall Trail Drive Thru. Sunday, October 22nd: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This fall our annual trail drive thru will start off Hwy 1 at the Maasdam Barns and will end at Whitham Woods. This section of the Loop Trail is 5 miles long giving participants a longer drive than usual. This once-a-year opportunity for vehicles to drive a small section of our trail system is a favorite for many people, especially those individuals who are not able to walk or bike our beautiful trails. Maasdam Barns Committee chairman Tony Webb graciously offered to have the museum and historical horse barns open so that participants can make that part of their day as well.
Need more info? Call Therese at 472-4421, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Jefferson County Conservation Board offers a variety of outdoor-related programs each year. During the 2015 - 2016 fiscal year, 3903 individuals took part in naturalist programs. The bulk of that number was school group related. (Every classroom in the Fairfield School District makes a trip to Jefferson County Park as part of their curriculum.) Teachers have an opportunity to take part in a field trip that can help expand what they are studying in the classroom and in the process give the kids a hands-on, in-touch-with-nature experience. To schedule a field trip for your classroom contact Therese by calling 641-472-4421 or e-mail her at email@example.com.
Naturalist-led programs are also offered for the general public throughout the year. The programming varies from cultural history related programs such as basket making, maple syruping and the annual Dutch Oven Cook Off to outdoor recreation classes such as canoeing and kayaking. Natural history related programs make up the bulk of the naturalist-led programs for the public and might include an indoor class on pond management or outdoor hikes and trips to go wildlife watching, stargazing, or rock hunting. You can learn about upcoming programs by visiting this website, e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and asking to be put on the newsletter mailing list or by looking up Jefferson County Conservation on Facebook.
Church groups, clubs and other organizations interested in a naturalist-led hike or presentation can contact the naturalist by phone (472-4421) or e-mail. Currently there is no fee charged for these programs unless there are supplies involved (i.e. basket making); or if the naturalist has to travel out of county, mileage may be charged.