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Jefferson County Conservation Board, Fairfield, Iowa
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What's New and Newsletters


What's New - Upcoming Programs


Basket Making for Beginners. Monday, February 20th and Tuesday, February 21st 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. For 5th grade through adult. We’ll have two basket designs available for our basket makers. Both are fairly simple and can be completed in a relatively short period of time: 2.5 to 3.5 hours each. The Cracker Basket (right) has a round base made with both round and flat reed. Mom’s Basket (above) is a great basket to sit on your side table to hold the remote plus your notepad and pencils. These two basket days are for beginners so if you’ve never made a basket or if you’ve only made one or two consider joining us. We are flexible with time so you can come either day (or both) and start anytime during the day...whatever works best with your schedule. If you have the day open you can start as early as 9:00 a.m. If you have to work, then you can come as late as 5:30 and stay until 8:00 p.m. Fee: $4.00 (Cracker) & $8.00 (Mom’s). Pre-register by emailing therese@jeffersoncountyconservation.com or calling 641-472-4421.


Waterfowl Watching. Saturday, March 11: 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Join birdwatching.com’s Diane Porter and naturalist Therese Cummiskey for some early spring birding as we look for migrating waterfowl. We’ll visit sites in both Jefferson and Van Buren County in search of green-winged teal, canvasbacks, shovelers, ring-necked ducks, and a variety of other birds. Space is limited. Pre-registration is required. Call 472-4421 or e-mail therese@jeffersoncountyconservation.com. Participants should bring along a lunch.

Basket Making: Small Wastepaper Basket. Sunday, March 12th 1:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. For 9th grade through adult. This sturdy basket was designed by local basket maker Cathy Matt. It stands 11 inches high and utilizes 1/2 inch flat reed and has a twill pattern. There is a $20.00 fee per basket. Space is limited and pre-registration is required by emailing therese@jeffersoncountyconservation.com or calling 641-472-4421.


Star Party. Sunday, March19: 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Join the Science Center of Iowa and the Iowa City Children’s Museum at Jefferson County Park for some stellar sights. Thanks to the Iowa Space Grant Consortium, the science center is taking their Star Tours event on the road. Rhiley Binns, program presenter for the Science Center, approached the JCCB about using Jefferson County Park as one of their locations. At this free event, they’ll be setting up high-powered telescopes so you and your friends can get up close with the cosmos with a chance to view Mars in the west and Jupiter in the east. Just drop in anytime between 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. and visit with the Science Center staff. The location chosen for the event is on the eastern edge of Jefferson County Park and can be reached at 2186 Key Blvd.


Spring Break Camp: Nature Explorer. Tuesday, March 28: 9:00 a.m.—11:30 a.m. Get your kids out for some unplugged fun this spring break. Children in 1st & 2nd grade are invited to Nature Explorers where they will be on and off the trails discovering the changes that come with spring. Youth will be outside for most of the morning so they should come prepared for outside play and hiking. Limited to twelve-participants. Fee: $10. Pre-registration is required by March 24th. Download registration form below. Form and payment is required to reserve a spot. Forms can be mailed to Jefferson County Conservation, Brittney Tiller, 2003 Libertyville Road, Fairfield, IA 52556. For more information contact Jefferson County Conservation at 641-472-4421 or e-mail dmriverwatertrail@gmail.com.

  Click here to see the Registration Form for Spring Break Camps. (a PDF)

Spring Break Camp: Survival Camp. Wednesday, March 29: 9:00 a.m.—2:00 p.m. Get your kids out for some unplugged fun this spring break. During Survival Camp, youth in grades 3rd - 6th will be learning the art of archery, fire building and shelter building. Youth will be spending time outside for much of this camp and should come prepared for the variable weather! Each session will have a twelve-participant maximum. Fee: $20. Pre-registration is required by March 24th. Download registration form above. Form and payment is required to reserve a spot. Forms can be mailed to Jefferson County Conservation, Brittney Tiller, 2003 Libertyville Road, Fairfield, IA 52556. For more information contact Jefferson County Conservation at 641-472-4421 or e-mail dmriverwatertrail@gmail.com.


Travelogue: Journey to Tanzania. Tuesday, April 11: 7:00 p.m. Join local photographer Julie Johnston for a pictorial journey of the wildlife of Tanzania. Her photos take you from the Ngorongoro Crater, an extraordinary sanctuary for some of Africa’s densest populations of large mammals, to the expansive plains of the Serengeti. Over 1000 species of birds can be found alongside the lions, wildebeests, and elephants of Tanzania and Julie was one of the few people in her expedition that actively sought out birds to photograph. (Above her photo of an African Hoopoe.) Come see and hear of her adventure. Co-sponsored by the Fairfield Public Library and Jefferson County Conservation, this program will take place at the meeting room at the Fairfield Public Library. There is no fee.

Earth Day: Spring Wildflower Hike. Saturday, April 22: 10:00 a.m. Join the park naturalist for an Earth Day wildflower hike. From Spring Beauties and Trilliums to Bloodroot and Bluebells, come learn the natural history of our spring woodland flowers. This hike, which is co-sponsored by the Iowa State Extension Master Gardeners program, will last an hour and will take place over flat, even terrain. Participants should meet in front of the nature center in Jefferson County Park. No fee.

Earth Day: Iowa Frogs. Saturday, April 22: 1:00—2:30 p.m. There are 16 species of frogs and toads found in Iowa. Do you know our local ones? This family friendly program will start indoors at the Jefferson County Park nature center with a session on identification and frog calls and then we’ll head outdoors to a small nearby wetland to see what frogs we can find. Participants with children might want their kids to wear boots! No fee.

Introduction to the Warblers. Thursday, April 27: 8:00 p.m. Mid-May is peak migration time for warblers through Iowa. These colorful birds are a delight to see but they can be a challenge to find and identify. Come prepare yourself to get the most out of your spring birding with this session led by birdwatching.com’s Diane Porter as she shares her warbler-watching tips. Meets at the Fairfield Public Library.


Learn to Build Your Own Bow. The ancient skill of bow making from one piece of wood is an art form and this spring we are bringing back master bow maker Gene Winter, owner of Winter Bow Shoppe in Waterloo, for a two-day workshop. The workshop runs from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, April 29th & 30th. Because of the time involved in making a selfbow and the one-on-one instruction required, this program is LIMITED TO 6 PARTICIPANTS. Participants must be 16 years of age or older. There is a $230.00 fee per student payable to Winter Bow Shoppe. The osage orange staves and everything needed for the class will be provided. To register e-mail therese@jeffersoncountyconservation.com or call 472-4421.


Warbler Watching. Saturday, May 13: 6:30 a.m. (for the early bird) 8:30 a.m. (for everyone else!) Let’s go birding! Join Diane Porter and Therese Cummiskey at Shelter #3 (by the big pond) in Jefferson County Park. We’re offering two different time periods. 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. The earlier time period will yield more birds (in 2014 we saw 37 different birds including twelve different species of warblers) but we understand that not everyone is a “morning person” so we’ll start a second hike at 8:30 a.m.


Kayak!. Monday, June 12th 3:00 p.m.; 4:00 p.m.; 5:00 p.m.; 6:00 p.m.; 7:00 p.m. Have you ever wanted to try your hand at kayaking? You don’t want to go on a long paddle you just want to see what it feels like? On this day we’ll be offering five one-hour sessions for adults. We’ll take four participants per sessions and show them a few basic skills to get them started. Then they’ll have a chance to practice their new skills on the pond. Meets at Shelter #3 in Jefferson County Park. Fee: $2. When you call to register please let us know what time you’d prefer. All participants must wear a life jacket, which will be provided for you.


Iowa Turtles. Thursday, June 29th 7:00 p.m. Come join fisheries biologist Chad Dolan as he shares his knowledge of our Iowa turtles. From turtle identification and life history to surveying techniques both kids and adults will love his program. Meets at the gazebo near Shelter #3 in Jefferson County Park. There is no fee involved and registration is not required.

Summer Programs for Youth. We've just begun planning for our summer program for kids and although we don't have anything on the schedule for July or August yet click here to see the Summer Programs for June. (a PDF).

Des Moines River Water Trail Programs. Jefferson County Conservation has once again partnered with the Iowa DNR to provide activities on or along the Des Moines River. Naturalist Brittney Tiller has planned ten activities from July through October. Click here to see the List of 2017 Des Moines River Water Trail Programs. (a PDF).

Need more info? Call Therese at 472-4421, or e-mail to therese@jeffersoncountyconservation.com


Naturalist Led Programs: What We Offer


The Jefferson County Conservation Board offers a variety of outdoor-related programs each year. During the 2015 - 2016 fiscal year, 3903 individuals took part in naturalist programs. The bulk of that number was school group related. (Every classroom in the Fairfield School District makes a trip to Jefferson County Park as part of their curriculum.) Teachers have an opportunity to take part in a field trip that can help expand what they are studying in the classroom and in the process give the kids a hands-on, in-touch-with-nature experience. To schedule a field trip for your classroom contact Therese by calling 641-472-4421 or e-mail her at therese@jeffersoncountyconservation.com.


Naturalist-led programs are also offered for the general public throughout the year. The programming varies from cultural history related programs such as basket making, maple syruping and the annual Dutch Oven Cook Off to outdoor recreation classes such as canoeing and kayaking. Natural history related programs make up the bulk of the naturalist-led programs for the public and might include an indoor class on pond management or outdoor hikes and trips to go wildlife watching, stargazing, or rock hunting. You can learn about upcoming programs by visiting this website, e-mailing therese@jeffersoncountyconservation.com and asking to be put on the newsletter mailing list or by looking up Jefferson County Conservation on Facebook.


Church groups, clubs and other organizations interested in a naturalist-led hike or presentation can contact the naturalist by phone (472-4421) or e-mail. Currently there is no fee charged for these programs unless there are supplies involved (i.e. basket making); or if the naturalist has to travel out of county, mileage may be charged.

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Nature Talk... by Therese Cummiskey

Need more info? Call Therese at 472-4421, or e-mail to therese@jeffersoncountyconservation.com

Mission Statement

Our mission is to enhance the quality of life in Jefferson County by acquiring, developing and managing public areas so that its citizens will have opportunities for quality outdoor recreation experiences, and to cultivate good land stewardship through natural history and environmental education activities.

Jefferson County Conservation Board, 2003 Libertyville Road, Fairfield, IA 52556
Call: 641-472-4421    Fax: 641-472-7911   E-mail: jeffersonccb@lisco.com
Updated 2-8-17


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Dutch Oven Competition.


Luna Moth.


Cracker Baskets.


Diane Porter points out a bird.


Small Wastepaper Basket.


Tree Frog.


Inside a debris hut.


Julie Johnston.


Spring Beauties.


Singing Toad.


Bowmaking with Osage Orange.


Yellow-rumped Warbler.




Snapping Turtle.


Paddle Boarding.




After the Creek Hike!


Eastern Chipmunk.


Making a wedding basket.


Palm Warbler.