Funded by REAP

Resource Enhancement and Protection

What's New!
 Director's Desk | Nature Talk 

Our Quarterly Newsletter now On-line

Naturally Speaking is now available in PDF. Click here for Winter 2015 Edition.

Other issues also available. Click here for Autumn 2014 Edition. Click here for Spring 2014 Edition. Click here for Winter 2014 Edition.

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Also, if you want to look at last summer's Dutch Oven Cook Off, the 2014 Dutch Oven Cook Off newsletter is also available. Click here - may take a while to load.

(PDF files require Adobe Reader - click on the logo to download it)


Upcoming Public Programs


Iowa's Frogs. Friday, April 24th, 7:00 p.m.

Come learn about Iowa's various species of frogs and toads. We'll start indoors to learn about their adaptation and songs and then we'll head out to a nearby wetland to listen for a few of the early spring species.



Birding at the Bridge: Warbler Watch. Saturday, May 2nd, 7:00 a.m.

The first two weeks of May are peak migration time for warblers. These colorful birds are a joy to see but because many tend to feed at the tree tops you often develop "warbler neck". Well, we think we MIGHT have solved that birding closer to the tree tops! Join naturalist/photographer Diane Porter and naturalist Therese Cummiskey at the Cedar View Trailhead early on Saturday, May 2nd. Bring along your binoculars AND a lawn chair. We'll shuttle you down to the Cedar View Bridge, set up our chairs and enjoy a few hours of warbler watching. This bridge is 60 feet high over Cedar eye level with some, though not all, of the neighboring trees. Hopefully it will be a unique way to view some warblers. The "shuttle" will run from 6:45 a.m. to 7:30 a.m....but after that you'll have to hike it yourself. Pre-registration is appreciated but not required. No fee. Call Therese at 472-4421 or e-mail


Critters of the Night Spring Hike. Saturday, May 23rd. 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Bring along the kids for an evening hike and along the way you’ll meet some unusual characters...perhaps a batty scientist, or a critter lady, maybe the critter itself! Small groups led by a tour guide will leave every 12 to 15 minutes from Shelter #1. After your hike your tour guide will bring you back to your starting point so you can warm up by the fire and enjoy a hot chocolate. You don’t have to have kids to participate but all kids must be accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration is appreciated but not required. No fee. Call Therese at 472-4421 or e-mail


Need more info? Call Therese at 472-4421, or e-mail to



Spring Into Summer Dutch Oven Cook Off

Come to compete...or just to eat!

Competing: Whether you're a newcomer or have been Dutch oven cooking for most of your life, we hope you'll join us for our 8th Annual Dutch Oven Cook-Off on Saturday, May 30th, 2015 at Jefferson County Park located just southwest of Fairfield, Iowa off Libertyville Road. The goal of this event is to have fun, demonstrate Dutch oven cooking skills, and to amaze the public with the great food that comes out of cast iron.

Like last year we will be having both novice and well seasoned divisions. To register for the event contact or call 641-472-4421. For the Dutch Oven Cook Off rules and competitor information Click here.


Eating: The public is invited to come watch and visit with the cooks. Individuals can pay a small fee ($5.00 for 13 year olds to adult; $2.00 for 7 to 12 year olds; $1 for kids under 6) that will allow them to sample the food after the initial judging is done. Once judging is finished the food is returned to the competitor and "those who have paid for the privilege" can line up at the various booths for a sample. Visitors to the event last year had the chance to taste test over 50 dishes including Braised Pork Belly, Death by Chocolate Dessert, and Sweet Potato/Apple Hash. The money raised from the cost of the spoons goes to benefit the Cedar Creek Chapter of Ducks Unlimited.



Judging Times:

Desserts: 11:15 a.m. (well seasoned cooks) and 11:45 a.m. (novice)

Side Dishes: 12:15 p.m.

Mystery Ingredient: 12:45 p.m.

Breads: 1:15 p.m. (Novice) and 1:45 p.m. (well-seasoned)

Awards - no later than 2:30 p.m.



From the Director's Dennis Lewiston

Update. The Jefferson County Conservation Board had another busy year. Campers from 28 different states visited Jefferson County Park and paid over $22,000 in camping fees. $4,521 was collected in camping fees at Mac Coon Access and $1,645 at Round Prairie Park. The JCCB recorded 119 shelter reservations this past summer collecting $2,200 in rental fees. There were also 52 cabin reservations with $5,670 collected in rental fees. Therese Cummiskey worked with 166 groups (3,723 individuals) in naturalist-led programs from July of 2013 through June of 2014.

Did you know that every county in Iowa (99) has a county conservation board? The Iowa County Conservation system was established in 1955. Since that time, over 1,832 county conservation areas, encompassing over 193,624 acres have been established. 24 million park users spending 851.5 million dollars visit Iowa’s county parks each year. For some interesting facts on Iowa's County Conservation Boards check out this winter's newsletter. You can find the newsletter link at the top of this page.



Nature Talk... by Therese Cummiskey



Need more info? Call Therese at 472-4421, or e-mail to

See some articles from our newsletter, Naturally Speaking.