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Rainy days call for indoor activities like the schoolhouse

August 16, 2017
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Photo of the interior of a country school

While I was taking a shift at the Westport Schoolhouse yesterday in Kenue Park, two families with young children came in. “OK, you be the teacher,” the kids said to their dad. “Good morning class,” the dad started. “Today is Tuesday, Aug. 15. We’re going to learn how many days each month ...

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#welovepollinators

August 9, 2017
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Photo of a chrysalis about to hatch

Gingerly. Gently. My face tightened up as I concentrated on being careful with the fragile chrysalis clinging to the toothpick in my hand. At Pollinator Paradise, we rear monarchs from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult. When they hatch, they are so tiny it’s almost impossible to see their vibrant black, ...

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Pollinator Paradise: Good-bye porch

August 2, 2017
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Photo of building construction

I returned from vacation to quite a change outside the Dickinson County Nature Center. No porch on the north side of the building. Giant piles of dirt. A trench as tall as a person dug out of the ground. Progress is coming right along on Pollinator Paradise. When driving by, the north side ...

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Pollinator Paradise: Construction is underway

July 19, 2017
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Photo of construction on the nature center

Thud. Thud. Thud. Bang. Clang. We’re going to have to get used to a myriad of noises at the Dickinson County Nature Center as construction on the Pollinator Paradise addition begins. Poppema-Sikma Construction of Sheldon was awarded the bid for the construction portion of the $1.7 million project, and broke ground last week. So far,…

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Osprey Diary: Trying out his wings

July 12, 2017
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Photo of an osprey chick flapping its wings

They grow up so fast. One day you’re using your wings to make sure no cool breeze touches your tiny chicks, and the next they don’t fit underneath you. One moment they’re the size of an egg, and the next their wings stretch out as far as yours. One second they’re ...

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Teaching our children to appreciate nature

July 5, 2017
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It breaks my heart. Someone intentionally ran over two young raccoons a few blocks from my house. Kids at a day care were encouraged to throw rocks at a snake and hit a bat with foam bats. I heard both of these stories within the past day, and they just give me ...

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Dig a little deeper, paint a little browner

June 28, 2017
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Photo of prairie clay

I (Kiley) know I made this exhibit at the Dickinson County Nature Center, but this might be the most boring thing I’ve ever written. Thirty-six inches down in our soil, you will find loam which is characterized by common, fine, distinct brownish yellow mottles, a weak fine prismatic structure…yikes. It continues ...

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Plan an indoor scavenger hunt

June 22, 2017
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Photo of the osprey nest exhibit

We’re now a month into summer vacation, and every morning is similar. The kids wake up way too early. You feed them breakfast. You have play time, and you look at the clock. It’s 9:30 a.m. Plus, if you’re in northwest Iowa this morning, it’s pouring rain. What’s a mom to do in ...

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The legacy of Wilder, Spohn and Holroyd

June 14, 2017
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Photo of interior of country school

C. H. Wilder. Clara Holroyd. Eva Spohn. Each day, they woke up, ate a hearty breakfast and walked to the little white schoolhouse in the center of Westport Township in the southwest corner of Dickinson County. With the light of day still young, they started a fire in the potbelly stove to ...

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Osprey Diary: Transition time

June 7, 2017
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Photo of osprey in a nest

I was sitting on the nest like any other day when I felt it. Tap, tap, tap. A soft rhythm was coming from inside one of my brown speckled eggs. Tap, tap, tap. It was time. I had done my job and the babies were ready to break out of their shells and meet ...

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