Environment Education

It is our belief and goal at Calkins Nature Area that education is the key to ensuring a sustainable environment.
Two full time naturalists offer Environment Education Programs to a wide array of people and ages groups throughout the county. Preschool students begin to explore the world of nature, school field trips expand their knowledge of Iowa’s wildlife and habitats, and visits to the nursing homes continue a lifetime of learning. Environmental Education programs help foster a better understanding about our natural world with a variety of programs including: habitats, wildlife, geology, Native Americans, water, endangered species, insects, and numerous others. Hopefully through our efforts we will instill an appreciation that will lead to the understanding of preservation.

Field Trips at Calkins Nature Area and Interpretive Center
When coming to Calkins Nature Center for a field trip, please encourage your students to be on their best behavior to ensure a positive and informative experience for everyone. It is a good idea to provide one adult for every ten students to ensure adequate supervision.
We feel it is important to provide environmental education to the students of Hardin County and the surrounding areas. In an attempt to make it feasible for school budgets, Calkins Nature Center remains one of the few areas that relies upon donations and does not charge fees for environmental education programs.

Visiting Your Classroom and School
We would like to be a part of your educational plans by offering some wonderful environmental education programs that you can incorporate into your classroom activities. One thing that we ask is that you invite us in at the beginning of your unit so that we can spark your students’ interest and give them new information rather than just a review of what they have already learned. In addition to classroom visits, we are available for whole grade and school-wide
assemblies if so desired. There are several different programs listed within this newsletter that you can choose from or we can customize a program to fit your classroom or school assembly. Contact us and let us plan something special for your students.

Mobile Nature Trunks
Another option for bringing environmental education into your classroom is by borrowing one of our mobile nature trunks. These trunks are filled with a variety of teaching tools like story books, finger puppets, videos, curriculum, hands-on activities, animal pelts and parts, and so much more! These trunks may be checked out for classroom use. Call early to reserve one! Trunk Topics: Prairies, Wetlands, Woodlands, Mammals, Birds, Bats, Habitats, Insects, Monarch Butterflies, Reptiles/Amphibians, Native Americans.

Scenic City Empress Tours

Hardin County Conservation has a partnership with the Scenic City Empress Boat Club! We are now offering interpretive floats along the beautiful Iowa River Greenbelt. The programs include but are not limited to; water testing, Iowa’s reptiles, amphibians, and fish, aquatic insects, and scenic fall and spring floats. If this is something you are interested in, please contact the naturalists or Scenic City Empress Riverboat (641-648-9517). Free educational floats are limited so schedule early!

Funding for Fieldtrips
We are well aware that many school budgets are tight; therefore we would like to let you know that The Iowa River Greenbelt Resource Trust has funding available for students’ fieldtrips! Calkins Nature Area Bus Scholarship (PDF) Animal Cases
The Iowa River Greenbelt Resource Trust has also graciously donated animal cases that can be lent to classrooms for two weeks at a time. We currently have an otter, a bobcat, a gray fox, a screech owl, an American kestrel, and a mink. Contact us to reserve an animal case for your classroom.

Things to See at Calkins Nature Center

While visiting Calkins Nature Center you will be able to spend time in our Interpretive Museum which houses Native American artifacts as well as our newest display which focuses on geology and the ice age. This display features a mammoth tusk, history of the Hardin County gold rush, and much more! Outside you will find many attractions including our butterfly house where we raise Monarch Butterflies, our beautiful prairie that is home to many insects and native wildflowers, our live animal exhibit which houses twenty-seven different species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians, raptors, peafowl, waterfowl and upland game birds, approximately two miles of woodland trails that venture past the Iowa River and our pond where many water creatures can be found, and our most recent expansion, the amphitheatre with seating for approximately 120.

“Study nature; love nature; stay close to nature. It will never let you down.”
~ Frank Lloyd Wright