Loess Hills Prairie Seminar
by Patricia D. Armstrong
May 31 - June 2, 2013
Indoor space is reserved at West Monona High School in Onawa during the day on Saturday (beginning at 9:30am) if weather conditions force the seminar to be indoors.
The site on Sunday morning would be the Monona County Conservation Board Office in Onawa.
Loess Hills Wildlife Management Area, Onawa, Iowa
The Loess Hills Prairie Seminar is sponsored annually by Northwest Area Education Agency for educators, students, park and conservation persons, community leaders, and citizens. It's held in the Loess Hills Wildlife Management Area northeast of Onawa, Iowa (map).
The seminar is a living memorial to its founder, Carolyn Frerichs Benne, Western Hills Area Education Agency environmental educator. She started the seminar in 1977 as part of the Western Hills AEA's role in providing education and training for K-12 educators in the areas of conservation, environmental and science education. From 250 to 300 adults and students regularly attend the weekend event.
The philosophy and rationale is grounded in the concept of the "total village" – the belief that schools are part of the larger community that must come together to share and learn about the natural world and how to protect it.
State archaeologist rep to Speak at the 2013 Loess Hills Prairie Seminar
Lynn M. Alex, Education and Outreach Program Director with the University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist, will travel to Onawa on Friday, May 31, to speak at the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar. Her presentation, "The Recent Magic of Loess Hills Archaeology," begins at 7:30 p.m. at West Monona High School in Onawa as part of a weekend event. Alex states, "Using the magic of science, archaeologists recently uncovered wonderful new details about Loess Hills archaeology. These endeavors created only the lightest of footprints on area sites and resulted in new preservation opportunities."
The Loess Hills Prairie Seminar, sponsored annually by the Northwest Area Education Agency, is in its 37th year. It brings together dozens of facilitators and hundreds of participants of all ages, with diverse interests that relate to natural and cultural history, the Loess Hills, and prairie. Many field sessions teach about plants and birds, some explore nature writing or photography, others feature Native Americans, and more.
This year's theme is the "Loess Hills and Iowa: Past and Present." Duke Addicks, prairie historian and ethno-musician, offers sessions at this seminar for the first time. His four sessions are all situated at camp: ghost stories at the campfire on Friday evening, and three daytime sessions that include stories and music with instruments such as the Native American flute, bagpipe, and drum. "Lonesome Ron" will entertain with cowboy songs on Saturday evening at the campfire.
The public is invited to attend any session or program of interest. There is no registration fee and pre-registration is necessary only for those ordering meals or desiring to take an ecology boat tour on the Missouri River. (Space on the tours is limited.) A popular seminar meal is offered at the Methodist Church in Onawa on Saturday, late afternoon. There will be a few tickets available at the seminar, but to be sure of seating, pre-order them.
People of all ages are invited. There are special programs for children, families, and adults and older students. Some field sessions are walks or hikes, some are held at camp and there are several tours by auto: to an orchard, a prairie cemetery, birding hotspots, a wetland, the Turin Man Archaeological Site and State Preserve, a geology tour, and a natural history tour.
Educators are able to register for credit through the Northwest AEA.
Field sessions begin at the Loess Hills Wildlife Management Area northeast of Onawa and run all day on Saturday, June 1, and on Sunday morning, June 2. More than forty sessions are offered.
Friday evening programs begin at 6:15 at the high school and feature important updates about the Loess Hills, concluding with the talk by Lynn Alex. Saturday evening programs begin at 6:00 and include Jim Kessler speaking of his experience in restoring native plants to his property, Anna MacDonald sharing research about prairie strips in crop fields, Gerald Mestl presenting an update on the Missouri River, and Ty Smedes sharing his photo program about the return of Iowa's Bald Eagles.
Special programs are provided for children during the evening programs, but children will join their parents for the Bald Eagle program. There are also many exhibits and a silent auction at the high school on Friday and Saturday evenings.
The seminar is sponsored by Northwest AEA with much help from the Iowa DNR and Monona County Conservation Board. Major supporters are the Iowa Prairie Network, Iowa Living Roadway Trust Fund, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy of Iowa. The complete list of supporters, the detailed program, and much more information can be found on the Northwest AEA website at /en/programs_and_services/loess_hills_prairie_seminar/.
For more information, please contact Gloria Kistner at Northwest AEA at 712/222-6080, 800/352-9040, extension 6080, or email@example.com.