Education Programs

On top of all the fun you’ll have on the river by day, you’ll also have the option to learn in the evenings. All of our programs are open to the public, but seating isn’t guaranteed — make sure to bring your lawn chair!

2019 Education Schedule

Sunday, July 7 – River Park, Goldfield

2:00 p.m. – Afternoon Campground Programs

3:00 p.m. – Afternoon Campground Programs

7:00 pm – Welcome and Introductions

Monday, July 8 – Briggs Woods Park, Webster City

4:30 pm – Concurrent Afternoon Activities

7:30 pm – Concurrent Evening Sessions

Tuesday, July 9 – Briggs Woods Park, Webster City

4:30 pm – Concurrent Afternoon Activities

7:30 pm – Concurrent Evening Sessions

9:30 pm – Late Evening Session

Wednesday, July 10 – Multiple Locations

On-River Programs (Riverside Park, Webster City)

4:30 pm – Concurrent Informal Afternoon Activities (Briggs Woods Park, Webster City)

7:30 pm – Concurrent Evening Sessions (Briggs Woods Park, Webster City)

Thursday, July 11 – Briggs Woods Park, Webster City

7:30 p.m. – Concurrent Evening Sessions (Briggs Woods Park, Webster City)

Friday, July 12 – Bell’s Mill Park, Stratford

8:30 a.m. – On-River Activity

2019 Program Descriptions

Adventure Journal for kids (and adults) of all ages

Reduce/reuse project – make your own refillable adventure journal cover from felt and lots of fun scraps, ribbon, buttons, beads, and more! We will give you your first adventure journal to put inside! Littles will need a helper.
Presented by Melisa Jacobsen (Veteran Iowa Project AWARE Volunteer).

Astronomy Basics 101 / Stargazing

Explore the universe as we discover the basics of astronomy and observe, stars, constellations, planets, moon craters, and orbiting satellites. Bring your curiosity, binoculars, and a lawn chair so we can observe the night sky. Enjoy a presentation in the big tent, then take a short hike to the beach area for observation. We’ll have sky maps and red covers for flashlights available for observation time.
Presented by John M. Laird (Hamilton County Conservation Board Naturalist Ranger).

About John

John has been employed at Hamilton County Conservation since 1996. He has served as a Park & Forestry Tech., a Natural Resource Tech./Naturalist and then advanced to a Park Ranger/Naturalist and is now the Naturalist. John worked for the MN DNR as a Naturalist at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park from 1988 to 1996 where he gave cave tours and Naturalist programs. He attended Winona State University and graduated in 1987 with a BS in Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies. John grew up in Lehigh, Iowa, and spent many hours swimming in the Des Moines River, fishing, playing in the woods, riding bike, and playing outdoors at Dolliver State Park and Brushy Creek Recreation area.

Atlatl Throwing

The ability of ancient hunters to create and use stone projectile points was integral to survival. About 10,000 years ago and possibly earlier – long before the bow and arrow – Iowa’s earliest hunters used a spear thrower known as an atlatl to increase the speed and force of their spear for more efficient hunting. Elizabeth and Cherie will show participants how to use the atlatl to throw spears, and you’ll have plenty of time to practice hitting the bullseye!  Presented by Elizabeth Reetz and Chérie E. Haury-Artz.

About Elizabeth & Cherie

Elizabeth Reetz is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist, and has been doing archaeology fieldwork and research in the Midwest on and off since 2000. Her archaeology career has also taken her to Nevada, Ireland, coastal Washington, and, most recently before Iowa, three field seasons in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in far northern Minnesota.

Not only does she have a background in archaeology, but she has been an environmental educator for the past 8 years. She completed a second Masters (M.Ed. in Environmental Education) to gain credentials in curriculum building and outdoor education, with the ultimate goal of using archaeology to connect youth with nature.

Chérie E. Haury-Artz has a B.A. in Anthropology from State University of New York at Potsdam and an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Her research interests include analysis of fauna from archaeological sites, use and identification of lithic resources, rock art, and environmental adaptation of prehistoric cultures. Most of her research has been focused on the Great Plains in Oklahoma, Kansas, North and South Dakota, and Iowa. She also has a special interest in public education and outreach.

She currently works at the OSA in the Education and Outreach program. She also continues independent research in faunal analysis.

Boone River Community Sculpture Project

The Boone River Community Sculpture Project will culminate as a bronze sculpture installed at River Park in Goldfield, Iowa, in June 2020. The content and form of the sculpture will be created by volunteers and students as they make small intuitive sculptures which consider Boone River ecology, human impact on the Boone River, and reflect on their experiences with Iowa Project AWARE’s cleanup event in July 2019. Artist Eden Hall and University of Iowa art student volunteers will translate and combine these small sculptures into the final large-scale bronze sculpture in Goldfield. The goal of this project is to increase awareness and stewardship of Iowa rivers through art-making and community input.

The Boone River Community Sculpture Project is funded by The University of Iowa Office of Outreach and Engagement and the City of Goldfield.

Presented by Eden Hall.

About Eden

Eden is an Iowa-based environmental artist who works primarily in bronze and natural materials. Her art explores natural environmental processes and their relationships to human impact. In 2019, she received her MFA from The University of Iowa, School of Art and Art History with an emphasis in metal arts and sculpture.

Boone River Water Trail and Beyond

As river use has increased exponentially across the state, the need for access and access improvements, as well as the maintenance and management of river resources has become important. Brian will offer examples of how water trail projects have helped to accommodate the increased use and John will provide a broader statewide perspective.
Presented by Brian Lammers (Hamilton County Conservation Director) and John Wenck (Iowa DNR Water Trails Coordinator).

About Brian & John

Brian has worked in the conservation field since 1991. He was hired by Hamilton County Conservation in 2000, and became director in 2005. Brian and John have worked together to develop and designate the Boone River Water Trail in Hamilton County.

John was hired as the water trails coordinator in 2010 and works to implement the DNR’s statewide water trails plan. Brian and John have worked together to develop and designate the Boone River Water Trail in Hamilton County.

Burial Mounds in Iowa

As early as 1900 Euro-American settlers along the Boone River encountered unmistakable evidence of a substantial Native American population in this region. This includes reports mounds, burials, earthworks, and arrowheads. By the 1930s, the region also attracted the attention of some of the earliest professional archaeologists to work in Iowa, including Charles Keyes, Mildred Mott Wedel, and MacKinlay Kantor.

In the spirit of the times, these researchers were attracted to the mounds and excavated a number of them. Native Americans have always understood that mounds contain the graves of their ancestors and are to be treated with respect. Unfortunately, it has taken many years for Euro-Americans to understand this respect and appreciation for the mounds. In the mid and late 20th century state and federal legislation was enacted to protect and preserve Native American burial sites from disturbance, including archaeological excavation. Sadly, by this time hundreds of thousands had been destroyed, often with little or no documentation. This presentation will discuss what we know about the pre-contact mounds in Iowa and the evolution of Iowa’s ground-breaking burial protection laws.
Presented by Chérie E. Haury-Artz and Elizabeth Reetz.

Canoe Skills and Safety Clinic

Can’t keep that canoe straight? Worried about the rapids, dams, and other hazards on this year’s Iowa Project AWARE route? Then this clinic is for you! We’ll focus on simple boat control techniques, hazard identification, and learning to “read the river” in order to stay upright while finding that trash.

Presented by Nate Hoogeveen.

About Nate

Nate, River Programs Coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, is an American Canoe Association certified instructor. He coordinates the Protected Water Areas, Water Trails, and low-head dam safety programs for the Iowa DNR.

Climbing Everest

Come and listen as Jen walks you through the process of climbing the world’s tallest mountain. Get her first-hand account of what it looks and feels like to journey to the top of the world and back.

Presented by Jen Loeb (First Iowa Woman to Summit Mount Everest).

About Jen

Jen was born and raised in Jesup, Iowa. She attended Wartburg College and graduated with a degree in biology. She currently lives in Marengo and works in Cedar Rapids. Jen started mountain climbing in 2010 and since that time has climbed mountains all over the world, including Everest on May 19, 2016. She’s the first woman from Iowa to climb it. She’s currently on track to become one of less than 25 women in the United States to complete the “7 Summits” (which is when you climb the highest mountain on every continent)….only one peak left to climb…Vinson in Antarctica. Jen has been featured in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the Des Moines Register, KWWL, KCRG, and NPR. When she’s not climbing or working, she also does a lot of volunteer work.

Conservation at the Watershed Scale

Learn how the Boone River Watershed Project is promoting and assisting farmers, landowners, cities, and counties to install conservation practices to:
• Improve water quality
• Reduce flooding
• Increase wildlife habitat

Hear firsthand experiences from local farmer, Tim Smith, about the agronomic and environmental benefits he’s seen from conservation practices on his farm.

Presented by Karen Wilke (The Nature Conservancy) and Tim Smith (local farmer).

About Karen & Tim

Karen has been the Boone River Project Director and Iowa Freshwater Specialist for The Nature Conservancy for over 5 years to increase conservation across the watershed.

Tim Smith is a lifelong farmer having farmed the family farm since his early 20s. In 2011 he began implementing various practices to reduce nitrate loads and preserve valuable topsoil. These practices include cover crops, strip tillage, wood chip bioreactor, and Prairie Strips.

Doodle Bug Club of America – Keeping the Legacy Alive

The Doodle Bug Club of America was founded by Vern Ratcliff (Webster City) and Bill Moore (Mason City) 33 years ago to celebrate the famous little red bug which was built in Webster City from 1946 to 1948. Annually for the last 33 years, visitors come to Webster City from all over the nation to celebrate the iconic little motor scooter, which was built alongside the washing machine assembly line at Beam Manufacturing Co. This would evolve into what was known as Electrolux.

Presented by Doodle Bug Club Members (Members Who are Otherwise Known as Gray-Haired 14-Year Olds).

About the Doodle Bug Club

We are part of a club which was formed to help in keeping the Doodle Bug legacy alive and well. We have members from approximately 35 states, including Alaska.

Geology of the Boone River Watershed

The Boone River watershed is located in north-central Iowa, which is in the heart of the Des Moines Lobe landform region. No more than 13,000 years ago, a continental glacier covered this land. As it melted, it left behind a blanket of sediments that formed a landscape covered in a mosaic of wetland ecosystems. Beneath this virgin landscape is bedrock from Devonian to Cretaceous age, spanning more than 300 million years of geologic time.

Presented by Ryan Clark and Kata McCarville.

About Ryan & Kata

Mr. Clark is a bedrock geologist with the Iowa Geological Survey (IGS). Mr. Clark received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in geology from the University of Iowa. Prior to joining the IGS in 2012, he worked for Terracon Consultants, Inc. in Cedar Rapids as an environmental consultant. Mr. Clark’s primary responsibilities at the IGS are creating bedrock geologic maps and providing information to public and private entities with information regarding Iowa’s unique geology.

Kata teaches a wide variety of courses in geography and geology at Upper Iowa University, where she has been a faculty member since 2005. Kata’s parents are Iowans, and she was born in St. Louis, on the Mississippi River, grew up in California and earned a bachelor’s degree at UCLA, and a master’s degree at Colorado School of Mines. She has worked as a uranium miner and in exploration and development of mineral deposits. She earned the PhD in vertebrate paleontology at South Dakota School of Mines and worked as a research scientist with the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences there. This will be her 8th year of participation with Iowa Project AWARE.

History of Goldfield and the Boone River

Learn about the history of Goldfield and the importance of the Boone River and flowing wells to the area.

Presented by Sonna Johnson.

About Sonna

Sonna is a second generation historian of Goldfield. She has always been interested in the history of the area, thanks in part to her mother’s interest in preserving the local history for future generations.

History of Hamilton County

Folks have lived in what is now Hamilton County, Iowa for millennia. American exploration originated with the Dragoons in the 1830s. American and European settlement started in the 1850s. The story of how settlement, travel, county organization, educational system, and how basic needs were met may not be what you would have expected!

Presented by Rebecca Mines (Hamilton Hometowns).

About Rebecca

Rebecca has been at Hamilton Hometowns since April 2014. She does the photography for the towns’ events, social media, researches, and creates the Hamilton County tourism brochures and the quarterly newsletter – plus she’s the organization’s bookkeeper.

History Tour of Bell’s Mill Park

Join our County Naturalist at the gristmill kiosk at Bell’s Mill Park and we will discuss the history of Bell’s Mill Park as we walk the park grounds and tour the country school house, restored log cabin, and look at the original gristmill site.
Presented by John M. Laird.

About John

John has been employed at Hamilton County Conservation since 1996. He has served as a Park & Forestry Tech., a Natural Resource Tech./Naturalist and then advanced to a Park Ranger/Naturalist and is now the Naturalist. John worked for the MN DNR as a Naturalist at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park from 1988 to 1996 where he gave cave tours and Naturalist programs. He attended Winona State University and graduated in 1987 with a BS in Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies. John grew up in Lehigh, Iowa, and spent many hours swimming in the Des Moines River, fishing, playing in the woods, riding bike, and playing outdoors at Dolliver State Park and Brushy Creek Recreation area.

Nature Hike to Brigg’s Woods Park Waterfalls

Join our County Naturalist at Shelter 2 on an hour-long nature hike to see the beautiful waterfalls of Brigg’s Woods Park as the water cascades down from Brigg’s Woods Lake and enters the Boone River. We will walk the park trails behind Shelter 2 and end up at the waterfalls and return on the Boone River Bike Trail to the Shelter 2 Area. Brigg’s Woods Park is 100 years old this year so we will discuss what makes it unique as we walk through the woods together.
Presented by John M. Laird (Hamilton County Conservation Board Naturalist Ranger).

About John

John has been employed at Hamilton County Conservation since 1996. He has served as a Park & Forestry Tech., a Natural Resource Tech./Naturalist and then advanced to a Park Ranger/Naturalist and is now the Naturalist. John worked for the MN DNR as a Naturalist at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park from 1988 to 1996 where he gave cave tours and Naturalist programs. He attended Winona State University and graduated in 1987 with a BS in Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies. John grew up in Lehigh, Iowa, and spent many hours swimming in the Des Moines River, fishing, playing in the woods, riding bike, and playing outdoors at Dolliver State Park and Brushy Creek Recreation area.

Poison Ivy: Plant Identification, Prevention, & Treatment

Learn how to positively identify poison ivy, decontaminate gear and clothing, and prevent and treat the risk.
Presented by Dan Boelman RN, BSN.

About Dan

Dan is the customer service manager at Zanfel Laboratories. Dan provides education on poison ivy for patients, healthcare providers, and groups like the Boy Scouts of America, the U.S. military, U.S. Forest Service, CAL Fire, and others. Dan has written articles published in peer-reviewed journals, and has appeared on TV and radio to help spread awareness and educate people on this very common allergic skin reaction.

Reflections on Iowa Rivers and Their Future

Explore what Dr. Jim Pease has learned from paddling many of Iowa’s rivers and discuss what our rivers’ futures should look like. As a group, we’ll talk about how we might get there.
Presented by Dr. Jim Pease (Emeritus Professor, Iowa State University and Master Interpreter).

About Dr. Pease

Dr. Pease has over four decades of experience in environmental education and has paddled some 1800 miles of Iowa Rivers, conducting biological and interpretive surveys for the Iowa Water Trails Program. He helped design and conduct the Master River Stewards Program for Iowa Rivers Revival, served over two decades as an Extension Wildlife Specialist, was the director of Iowa’s NatureMapping and Master Conservationist programs and taught fifteen years in youth development and natural resources.
Today Dr. Pease is active in leading international wildlife trips to Central and South America and holds leadership positions with Story County Conservation Board and Friends of Ada Hayden Heritage Park.

Riverside Stormwater Wetland Tour

The City of Webster City created a stormwater wetland at Riverside Park, the trailhead to one of Iowa’s first water trails. The Riverside Park Stormwater Wetland (RPSW) is a 2.5-acre extended detention stormwater wetland complex. Previously, untreated stormwater for approximately 32 acres of commercial and residential properties discharged directly into the Boone River. Two stormwater sewer mains were daylighted, creating a wetland complex. Now, the stormwater filters though the wetland, infiltrates into the soil, and percolates to the ground water before reaching into the Boone River. It decreases flooding and provides water quality benefits including sediment removal, reductions in temperature (cooling), and removal of other pollutants. In addition, the system serves as a natural space functioning as a wet prairie offering a way for residents to interact with nature.
Presented by Brian Stroner and Judy E. Joyce.

About Brian & Judy

Brian Stroner is the Environmental/GIS coordinator for the City of Webster City. He has been involved with a number of conservation and recreation efforts such as:

  • The Boone River Cleanup
  • Protected water areas
  • Water trails

He is an avid paddler, fisherman, and has been floating the Boone River for over 30 years.
Judith E. Joyce, is a Principal, Senior Geomorphologist, and a Professional Wetland Scientist at Impact7G. She specializes in watershed planning, stream assessments, soil characterization, plant identification, and hydrological studies throughout the Midwest. Her projects include stream and wetland restorations, stormwater best management practices based on natural system design, geomorphological studies, and evaluating land suitability for development. Her passion has always been finding ways to bring nature back into our communities. Her designs achieve this goal by not only incorporating nature play areas, but also by utilizing a variety of out the box funding sources and partnerships.

Rock Collecting and Gold Prospecting in Iowa

Bill and David will share information on Iowa geology, glacial movements through Iowa, and how it relates to rivers in Iowa. How does one go about collecting rocks? How do you identify them as either native or non-native rocks? How did the rocks in Iowa got here? Part of the presentation will involve hands-on demonstration to those interested in panning for gold.
Presented by Bill Jeffries and David Letche.

About Bill & David

Bill has been interested in rocks for years. Prospecting came about not too long ago. He collects rocks wherever he goes, adding to his collection, gathering rocks that strike him as unusual and beautiful in their own right. Bill does polish rocks by tumbling or grinding to enhance their beauty. As for prospecting, Bill started about three years ago when his daughter showed an interest in it. Bill, knowing that there is truly not that much gold in Iowa, realized that he couldn’t just go down to the local mining store, so he builds most of his equipment, buying only what he needs.

Tour of Wilson Brewer Park

Take a step back in history as you explore the Wilson Brewer Park, which preserves the history of Hamilton County and Webster City. Tour the restored Harmony Center School one-room school house (1876), Mulberry Center Church (1890), the first Hamilton County Courthouse (1866), and the former Illinois Central Railroad Depot (1902) which houses many artifacts that serve as reminders of the area’s rich heritage.
Slideshow presentations will be given in the air-conditioned Mulberry Center Church about the Wilson Brewer family who were the first settlers to Webster City, the history of Wilson Brewer Park, and the story of the refurbishing and relocation of the two pioneer cabins.
Presented by Darlene Dingman and Carolynn Miller (Wilson Brewer Park staff).

Wildflower-watching, lichen-looking, and insect-inspecting in parks, preserves, and peaceful places

Explore to look for plants, lichens, and insects. If you have them, bring your binoculars, hand lens, and cameras, but most of all bring your curiosity about the natural world. We will explore the campground area at Briggs Woods Park.
Presented by John Pearson.

About John

John is an Iowa Department of Natural Resources botanist and ecologist with interests in plants, lichens, and insects.
Wrap it up! Waxed sandwich and food wraps for kids (and adults) of all ages
Reduce and reuse project. We used leftover scraps of material to create waxed cloth. Come select your own wrap and then personalize it with buttons and strings! You will have your very own reusable sandwich wrap when you are done! Littles will need a helper.
Presented by Melisa Jacobsen (Veteran Iowa Project AWARE Volunteer).