How deep do they go?

Photo of butterfly milkweed root drawing

Did you know that butterfly milkweed’s roots grow up to 12 feet deep, about the height of an African elephant? We look at prairie plants and can hardly imagine the amazing root systems that are growing beneath our feet. Those roots help to draw water down into the watershed, which cleans it before it enters…

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Celebrate Earth Day by meeting John James Audubon

Photo of Brian Ellis as John James Audubon

While Brian Ellis chatted on the phone, he watched the prairie he had planted outside his home. Grasses blew in the breeze, the soil radiated warmth from the sun and birds were nesting within view. He hopes that when people come to his one-man storytelling production about John James Audubon that they will want to…

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A hidden gem of an exhibit at the nature center

Photo of butterflies in the Wallace exhibit

The Iowa Great Lakes area has many antique stores, consignment shops, secondhand retailers. We go inside looking for discounts on needed items or the thrilling hunt for something we didn’t know we needed. Okoboji native Bob Heggestad was on a hunt in Arlington, VA, in the late 1970s when he spotted a beautiful rosewood cabinet.…

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It’s time to think about spring planting

Photo of a honeybee on a flower

Bring back the bees. Bring back the butterflies. With pollinator populations dropping drastically in recent years, the push to bring them back has spread. But how do we do that? One of the best ways is to plant native flowers and grasses in our landscaping, providing pollinator habitat and food sources. Native plantings also offer…

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Five bee myths and truths

Photo of a bee finger puppet

Myth: Bees are mean. Truth: Bee are nice. Honeybees only sting as a last resort, because they die after stinging. That means, unless they feel threatened or think you are going to hurt the hive, they will leave you alone. Myth: Bees will keep stinging you. Truth: As stated above, honeybees will die after stinging…

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DNR brings Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring program to nature center

Photo of a northern leopard frog

While the winter wind whips and the snow keeps falling it is hard to imagine spring but March brings a glimmer of hope. March is when Iowa’s dedicated frog and toad survey volunteers start listening to their call CD and sharpening their pencils in preparation for the first warm(ish) night in April. For almost 25 years,…

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Spring photography contest accepting entries

The smell of grilled salmon wafted through the trees off West Lake Okoboji. Small black noses twitched and mouths watered as four small raccoons peered over the limbs of a tree to see who was cooking such deliciousness. It was at that exact moment that David Curry, 61 of Dakota Dunes, SD, clicked the shutter…

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Color match trek in the Nature Playscape

Photo of paint samples by the sky

Yesterday, I stopped at the local hardware store and picked up a few paint chips to take into the Nature Playscape at the Dickinson County Nature Center. I thought I would play a little game and see what colors in nature I could match to my paint chips. The outdoor play area has so many…

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If you’re passionate about water quality, check out this program

Photo of a dirty stream

Water quality is a murky issue. Clear it up by participating in the Master River Stewards Program April-May in the Iowa Great Lakes area. “It’s going to be an in-depth program with conservation professionals going over most aspects of water quality,” said Charles Vigdal of the Dickinson County Conservation Board. “Water quality is important, and…

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Make your own backyard birding binoculars

Photo of a goldfinch

Birding is such a popular hobby because everyone can do it. Whether you are backyard birding, taking a hike or even boating, you can always catalogue the birds that you see. The Backyard Birding exhibit at the Dickinson County Nature Center features nests of some of the most common birds you might see right outside…

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