Iowa Learning Farms Hosts Urban Field Day at Swiss Valley Nature Center

AMES, Iowa — Iowa Learning Farms will host an urban field day at the Swiss Valley Nature Center near Dubuque, on Wednesday, May 23, from 6:30-8 p.m. The event will focus on urban soil and water conservation as well as updates on work in the Upper Catfish Creek and the North Fork Maquoketa River watersheds.

The field day begins with a complimentary evening meal prepared by Daryl Biechler. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Eric Schmechel, watershed coordinator for the Upper Catfish Creek watershed, will update attendees on the watershed project and offer ideas for urban residents, such as rain gardens and bio-retention areas, to help improve soil and water quality in the watershed where they live. Aaron Andrews, watershed coordinator for Hickory Grove Lake watershed in central Iowa, will talk about ways that rural residents can help protect their local watershed. He is also a water quality specialist with Iowa Learning Farms.

In addition, the event will feature the Conservation Station — a mobile learning center that educates audiences of all ages about the importance of good soil and water quality. Visitors to the Conservation Station will learn about the importance of soil and water quality in Iowa and how everyone can help to preserve and protect these natural resources. Its rainfall simulator offers a strong visual of the connection between land management choices, soil erosion and water quality. The effects of rainfall on surface runoff and subsurface drainage are illustrated using five undisturbed land surfaces including assorted tillage treatments, buffers and pervious pavement.

Attendees can visit with fellow watershed residents, tour the Conservation Station and view displays from the Upper Catfish Creek, North Fork Maquoketa River and the Tete des Morts watersheds after the meal and the presentations.

The Swiss Valley Nature Center is located at 13606 Swiss Valley Road, Peosta.

Iowa Learning Farms takes a grassroots approach offering innovative ways to help all Iowans have an active role in keeping our state’s natural resources healthy and not take them for granted. A goal of Iowa Learning Farms is to build a culture of conservation, encouraging the adoption of residue management and conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best in-field management practices that increase water and soil quality while remaining profitable.

Iowa Learning Farms is a partnership between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319); in cooperation with Conservation Districts of Iowa, the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Water Center.