Lyon to host Master Conservationists | News

REGIONAL—Outdoorsy folks have a chance to brush up on their skills with a slate of lessons from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in partnership with other conservation groups.

The Master Conservationists series is coming to Lyon County, although it is open to anyone inside or outside the county.

Carly Herum is the ag program coordinator for the county’s extension office and will help lead the course, a hybrid of online and in-person building of natural resource skills and knowledge.

“Master Conservationists will give participants a better understanding of conservation practices they can incorporate into their daily lives,” Herum said.

The program will meet at 5:30 pm Tuesdays, April 19-May 31, at locations around Lyon County.

Registration costs $20. The deadline is Monday, April 11.

“We’re really excited to get this going, and it’ll be a lot of fun,” Herum said, adding that a free meal will be provided at each session. “For 20 bucks, I feel like that is a steal.”

The bill of Andrew Jackson will cover the course’s reading material and a water bottle, but most of the cost is covered by the county-level tax levy for the conservation department.

Some of the things students can look forward to is getting out on Lake Pahoja, running a controlled prairie burn and learning some conservation history.

“It’ll be lots of hands-on things that people probably wouldn’t normally get to do unless they signed up for it,” Herum said.

The Extension team has organized Master Conservationists across the state for years, but this is the first time the series has come to Iowa’s far northwest corner. The closest was last year in Dickinson County.

Herum said she is looking to make the series a steady offering given Lyon County’s bountiful resources.

“I’m hoping to do this every year, maybe twice a year. We’re just going to see how it goes,” she said.

Partners for the program include Lyon County Conservation and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources as well as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency of the US Department of Agriculture.

Master Conservationists hike through Dickinson County last fall, part of a program by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The natural resources course will be in Lyon County this spring. Registration is due April 11.

Those teams will be especially central for the two lessons scheduled at the Lake Pahoja Recreation Area northwest of Inwood.

“Iowa DNR will be bringing their boat over and they’ll be doing some electroshocking. We’ll all get a chance to get out into the lake and try that,” Herum said.

The coordinator said prairie fire is another hit on the Master Conservationists set list.

“That will be fun to see, how they work with conservation on that end,” she said.

Besides the more exhilarating experiments, the purpose of the class is to get regular citizens more informed and involved in the local environment. The theme of this year’s program is “Let’s Plant the Seeds of Conservation in Lyon County.”

That motif will be central at the first meeting — held at the Calico Skies Winery west of Inwood — and the following week’s first on-the-ground lesson — where the group will meet at Gitchie Manitou State Preserve at the extreme northwest corner of Iowa’s borders .

“We’ll go through and see the history of the land as well as what they’ve been doing in terms of conserving that land,” Herum said.

She added she is excited to see more people sign up. Her office was in Rock Rapids on Tuesday for the chamber’s Farm & Home Show to promote the program.

Master Conservationists would be impossible without the collaboration from ISU Extension’s partners, she said, and it provides a more fulfilling experience for those taking the class.

Herum also said the hybrid instruction will instill lessons better than all-digital lessons or only meeting once a week.

“When you combine the online modules and the in-person curriculum, it’s going to really give everybody a chance to get out in nature and see exactly what conservation is all about,” she said.


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