Master Conservationist Graduation

Group looking at plants during the class on prairies at Hitchcock Nature Center.

Last Saturday, our class graduated from the Master Conservationist program at Hitchcock Nature Center. If you missed my class recaps, find them here:

Iowa Ecosystems: Forests
Iowa Ecosystems: Prairie
Iowa Ecosystems: Wetlands

The program was hosted by our local Golden Hills RC&DPottawattamie County ConservationPottawattamie County Soil & Water ConservationPottawattamie County NRCSISU Extension and Outreach West Pottawattamie over the summer. The program was one Saturday per month at Hitchcock Nature Centerin Honey Creek, Iowa.

Our class presented Chad Graeve with an original print of native flowers made by one of our classmates.

We wrapped up the class with a great breakfast and discussion of what we learned throughout the class. We also shared our ‘elevator pitch’ on what conservation means. Several people mentioned how great it was that we got to meet a whole group of like-minded people and I completely agree. Great friendships with new people who we will surely run into in the years to come.

There will not be a Master Conservation class held next year, instead they will offer a Land Management course, rotating between the two options each year.

Our class posed for a photo outside of Hitchcock Nature Center.

Class of 2019 Master Conservationists

These were supplemental resources that we were encouraged to explore as we had time. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind that I shared these general resources with all of you as well.

Supplemental resources

General resources 

  • To hear from many of the voices involved in conservation in Iowa from farms to cities, check out past episodes of the Conservation Chat podcast from Iowa Learning Farms.
  • A recent national survey effort called The Nature of Americans evaluated how people connect to and value natural resources in the United States. The Key Findings of that survey effort offer interesting insights and recommendations for reconnecting people, particularly children, to nature.
  • For a national perspective on how major conservation leaders like The Nature Conservancy craft messages about conservation and try to engage the general public, check out this report on survey research of general U.S. voters. The take away from this report is that wording matters, at least in large-scale national conversations. Local knowledge and experience however is the best reference for crafting compelling messages.
  • Water Quality Matters to us All is a 2011 report from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach about Iowan’s attitudes towards water quality.


Volunteer opportunities and ways to get involved or learn more

Hiking with Chad during a class at Hitchcock Nature Center.

Here is some information from Golden Hills about the program: 
We are partnering with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and Pottawattamie County Conservation to offer the Iowa Master Conservationist Program starting Spring 2019. The program will take place at the Hitchcock Nature Center, providing participants with hands-on interaction with the diversity of the state’s natural resources. The program teaches about Iowa’s natural ecosystems and the diversity of conservation challenges and opportunities that exist in the region. Graduates of the course learn to make informed choices for leading and educating others to improve conservation in Iowa.

The program consists of approximately 12 hours of online curriculum and six face-to-face meetings. The online modules will include lessons and resources by Iowa State subject-matter experts to be reviewed at the participants’ own pace at home or at the ISU Extension and Outreach West Pottawattamie County office. Module topics include conservation history and science, understanding Iowa ecosystems, implementing conservation practices in human dominated landscapes and developing skills to help educate others about conservation practices.

If you are interested in participating in the Master Conservation Program in two years, make sure to reach out to one of the partner organizations:  Golden Hills RC&DPottawattamie County ConservationPottawattamie County Soil & Water ConservationPottawattamie County NRCSISU Extension and Outreach West Pottawattamie.

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