Visit to check out a park or wildlife area you might want to explore managed by one of Iowa's 99 county conservation boards!

The website is once again live and available for you as a resource in your early care and education world! This site contains nature-based outdoor inquiry activities and includes correlation to the Iowa Early Learning Standards 2012. All activities were reviewed by the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children for being developmentally appropriate and incorporating a variety of learning styles. Many activities will meet Head Start Performance Standards. Did we say activities -- over 300 activities!  Here is what one of our website reviewers had to say, "WOW!  There is so much in this website.  I only looked at a small portion because it is so vast with so many exciting ideas to try. THANKS TO YOU for the time and effort put in to this!"

“A view of land and people…”
Compiled by Marla Mertz, Marion County Conservation, and Linette Bernard, Feathers & Ink

Iowa has natural treasures, the United States has natural treasures, but those treasures are as uniquely global as they are local. Soil is one of those great treasures that give us life. The diverse living ecosystem under our feet, provides food security, nutrition, medicine, is an ally with climate change, and is the basis of all things - In Iowa, we once called it Black Gold.

The United Nations has been celebrating soil for all of 2015. Globally, soils are in danger because of expanding cities, deforestation, unsustainable land use and management practices, pollution, overgrazing, and changes in weather patterns. The current rate of soil degradation threatens water quality and the ability for people, worldwide, to have sustainable agriculture, and food security. Everything is connected.

Soils are so important… did you know:

  • Healthy soils are needed for healthy food production
  • Soils support biodiversity, about one-quarter of all living things are directly supported by soil 
  • Soils store and filter water and this helps during times of flooding and drought
  • Soils play a key role in the carbon cycle
  • Soils are a non-renewable resource – in our lifetime anyway – and soil conservation efforts are necessary for a sustainable future (PDF)

Soil Links:

Within the history of Iowa, there have been a few well known, forward-thinking pioneers of conservation. Through observation, working with the land, and in-depth teachings about original beliefs and changes of beliefs over time, we would like to introduce you to Aldo Leopold, acknowledged by many as the father of wildlife conservation.

Dennis Keeney, first director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture writes, “Aldo Leopold has given the world great concepts linking the arts and sciences to the natural world. These thoughts developed over his lifetime, culminating in “The Land Ethic,” the final chapter in his epic book, A Sand County Almanac. There is no doubt that soil was central to his thinking on the harmony of people and the land.” - See more of Keeney’s thoughts about ‘Leopold on Soil” here

"The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land... In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such."
―Aldo Leopold

Did you know Aldo Leopold was born in Burlington, Iowa? Learn more about Aldo and his life’s works:


"Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching- even when doing the wrong thing is legal."
―Aldo Leopold

Many, many authors, conservation professionals, land managers, and even elected officials have noted the elegance of Aldo Leopold’s writing. His style of writing blended with his keen observations and sound science make for powerful learning tools.

Using Leopold in teaching:

"One of the anomalies of modern ecology is the creation of two groups, each of which seems barely aware of the existence of the other. The one studies the human community, almost as if it were a separate entity, and calls its findings sociology, economics and history. The other studies the plant and animal community and comfortably relegates the hodge-podge of politics to the liberal arts. The inevitable fusion of these two lines of thought will, perhaps, constitute the outstanding advance of this century."

―Aldo Leopold

Have you read a Sand County Almanac? I think it’s time to find my copy and a warm spot in the sun…

Thank you to the Leopold Scholars, The Aldo Leopold Foundation, and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture for making sure future generations know, understand, and appreciate the uniqueness of Aldo Leopold and his message. We simply compiled highlights here in hopes that if you’ve not read A Sand County Almanac, you will be inspired to do so.

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It's Baby Season
"Stuff" happens and sometimes the wildlife parents and young become separated -- sometimes this is normal -- but how do you know.  Check out these links to learn more!
Raptor Viewing Etiquette

We should all observe good raptor  viewing etiquette, not only during the nesting season, but also during this time of migration. 

Remember that raptors are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and bald and golden eagles have additional protections under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Upcoming Programs and Opportunities

GreenWorks! grants available from Project Learning Tree for those that have attended a professional workshop. Deadline September 30. Learn more here.

August 30  Saving Our Avian Resources - SOAR Annual Release Party at the Dale Valley Vineyard near Stuart, Iowa 2:00-5:00 p.m. More info here.
September 10 & 12    Hunter Education Course, sponsored by Marion County Sportsman's Club, Marion CCB, and Iowa DNR. Online registration only.  
September 12  Gladys Black Day, 11-3:00 p.m., Shadle Park, Pleasantville.  Learn about Gladys and the birds she loved from Larry Stone, Jon Stravers, Beth Brown, Kay Neumann, Marla Mertz, Pat Schlarbaum, and local residents! More details at Pleasantville Chamber website.
September 13-19
 Iowa Prairie Heritage Week! Visit the Iowa Prairie Network calendar for events being planned throughout the state!
October 21  RiverWorks Discovery, a program of the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, high school student conference, Who Works the River, is job-oriented towards river related careers 

Who Am I? for the week of 24 August

So, let’s get down to it. Put on those thinking caps, grab your friends and family, and let’s play! Remember — no cheating!

    • I eat nuts, berries, fungi, lichens and some vertebrates
    • I like to live in woodpecker holes
    • I require mature stands of trees and rotting logs to live
    • I can glide through the air with ease, and 
    • I live with my friends in the winter to keep warm.
What am I? Make your guess, and then go here for the answer and more interesting facts
Did you get it right?! If not, no worries — you’ll have another chance next week!

In the news...

To learn more about EAB and other pests that are threatening Iowa’s tree population, please visit

Please contact any of the following members of the Iowa EAB Team for further information:

Check these out!

Iowa Young Birders - Check out this group formed in 2011 to help young people experience the joy and wonder of finding, seeing, and identifying birds!  The Iowa Ornithologists Union is helping to sponsor birding field trips for young people age 8-18 in conjunction with their spring and fall meetings. Check out the details and the Iowa Young Birders website for other field trip opportunities! <jealous!>

Healthy and Happy Outdoors - Learn more about this new Iowa Department of Natural Resources initiative here. Register with the program and record your outdoor activities in Iowa parks and recreation areas with each recorded activity a chance to win outdoor gear in a drawing.  The site also has a search feature for finding outdoor activities in Iowa.

Visit to check out a park or wildlife area you might want to explore managed by one of Iowa's 99 county conservation boards! Look here for events and activities, too!