“If I could put together all the virgin landscapes which I knew in my youth and show what has happened to them in one generation it would be the best object lesson in conservation that could be printed.”
Jay Norwood Darling, better known as Ding, saw the landscape in Iowa change through his lifetime, from wild places full of life to those spoiled by humankind pushing westward. Seeing the desecration of the land he loved inspired the famed political cartoonist to educate about conservation issues throughout his career.
You can hear from Ding firsthand when he speaks during the Earth Day Celebration 4-8 p.m. Friday, April 15, at the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji.
Actors portraying Ding and famed conservationists Alfred R. Wallace, Gladys Black and Althea Sherman will be on hand to talk about the contributions to the environment made by these amazing people.
During the event, go for a walking tour through the Kenue Park prairie to visit with each conservationist, and at each stop sample beer from West O or the Okoboji Brewing Company, wine from Little Swan Lake Winery or non-alcoholic cocktails.
“This event format was new in 2015 and was quite the hit with people of all ages enjoying the tasting and meeting our famous conservationists,” said Kiley Roth, community relations coordinator. “We are excited to have four new conservationists this year, each with an exciting and personal story to tell.”
The Earth Day Celebration will begin at 4 p.m., with tours leaving every 20 minutes. Start at the nature center and purchase a souvenir tasting glass for $7 if you would like to sample alcohol — must be 21 years of age or older — or for $5 if you would like to try the non-alcoholic cocktails. The event is free for children 4 and younger and for those who choose not to participate in the beverage tasting.
While waiting for your tour, stop by the Nature Store for a neat souvenir, get your face painted or make your own recycled planter and start your own seedling.
The event will wrap up at 7 p.m. with the final prairie tour leaving the nature center at that time.
“Personally, I am looking forward to playing Alfred Wallace, because he is such an interesting person that many people don’t know about,” said naturalist Charles Vigdal. “The event is also a great way to get outside, enjoy the landscape of Kenue Park and to meet, face to face, actors playing important people who have shaped conservation and learn about their amazing lives.”
All ages are welcome at the Earth Day Celebration, which will be held entirely indoors in the case of inclement weather.
Volunteers are still needed for the Earth Day Celebration. If you are interested in helping out with this event, please call Roth at 712-336-6352.
You can also keep up with the latest news from the Dickinson County Nature Center by following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.