Friends of Calkins Nature Area

Calkins Nature Area


Few areas of Hardin County Conservation feature such diverse habitat, cultural and wildlife diversity, like that found at Calkins Nature Area and Interpretative Center. This 76 acre parcel was the homestead of Homer and Ruth Calkins; who graciously donated the property to Ellsworth Community College Board of Trustees in 1981. In 1993 Hardin County Conservation formed a partnership with the college, turning over management of the area to Hardin County Conservation. The name sake, Calkins Nature Area, is in recognition and appreciation of this great donation made by Homer and Ruth Calkins. Homer served as the Hardin County Conservation director for 18 years and rehabilitated animals most of his life.
Calkins Nature Area is free of charge and open Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 4:00 pm during winter months.

The nature area has three native habitats including woodlands, prairies, wetlands, and is bordered by the Iowa River. The nature area is home to over 20 different species of wildlife in the live animal display. You will also find a natural history museum, with over 620 mounted specimens, an extensive display of Plains Native American artifacts, and an exhibit on Hardin County’s geological history including the Ice Age.

Also, at this recreational area, you can explore the Iowa River Green Belt through two miles of trail system, get an up close view of Monarch metamorphism in the Shirley Welden Butterfly House, and test your bird identification skills at the bird blind. We also feature an Amphitheater that seats over 120 people, constructed primarily from plastic recycled lumber, and surrounded by native prairie plants.

At Calkins Nature Area we strive to accomplish Homer Calkins' vision to provide Hardin County and the surrounding area with a beautiful and educational outdoor classroom. Please visit the area free of charge Monday through Friday 8 am - 4pm. Weekend hours are by appointment or reservation.