The goal for the first session of the course is to "Set the Stage" for the more detailed examination of conservation we will embark on for the rest of the course. To do this, we will explore the people, places, and policies involved in conservation in Iowa and across North America.
At the end of this session, participants should:
- Be able to define conservation as it relates to natural resources including forests, water, soil, and wildlife.
- Be familiar with the modern structure and challenges facing conservation in Iowa.
- Understand the geological and ecological context of Iowa.
Before coming to the in-person session, complete the following elements.
- If you haven't done so already, please complete the pre-course assessment at this link to help us document the impact and make improvements to the Master Conservationist Program.
- View the introductory lecture for the program titled Setting the stage (17 minutes; download PDF of slides) where Dr. Adam Janke introduces conservation, reviews some conservation history in Iowa, and discusses the structure of the Master Conservationist Program.
- Read and reflect on Aldo Leopold's essay titled "The Land Ethic" in your copy of his influential 1949 book A Sand County Almanac (page 201 in the special commemorative edition).
- Watch the lecture on Iowa’s Lands and Waters (24 minutes; download PDF of slides) by Dr. Peter Moore for an introduction to the form and function of Iowa's landscape and land features.
As you review these materials and all the materials in the course, start to reflect on the following questions. We'll come back to these at the end of the course and use them as a way to think about how we can apply the things learned in the course to "plant the seeds of conservation" in Iowa.
- What’s your “conservation elevator speech”? That is, if you were only given a few seconds to describe what conservation means to you and why others should care, what would you say?
- Where do you see conservation challenges in your community? Who is working on addressing those challenges? Who’s missing?
- What's your Land Ethic and how does it shape the way you interact with the land and the animals that inhabit it?
References and supporting materials covered in this module. Explore as you have time and interest!
To understand Iowa's lands and waters, it's also important to understand the people that have lived here and shaped these ecosystems for thousands of years. This interactive map from the non-profit organization Native Land Digital highlights, to the best of our knowledge, where indigenous nations once lived and connects viewers to resources to learn more about those cultures and people. Tip: it helps to turn "labels" on, by checking the small box in the lower right side of the viewer to try to find modern places like states and cities you are interested in learning more about.
- Learn more about the Ioway Map featured in the introductory lecture here.
- Learn more about the Baxoje, or Ioway Nation, here.
- Learn more about where Native people lived in Iowa from the Office of the State Archaeologist
Learn more about the Coon Creek Watershed -- "the birthplace of watershed conservation" --- mentioned in the introductory lecture by watching this video from the NRCS (9:18).
Episodes of Iowa Land and Sky program
The Iowa Land and Sky program from Iowa Public Broadcasting has a wonderful library of short, educational videos about Iowa's landscapes and ecology. Here's a list of episodes that add to the focus of this module.
- Iowa's landform regions (0:48) - visual overview
- What is bedrock? (0:52)
- Iowa's geological diversity (7:19)
- Algific Talus Slopes (1:04)
Maps to explore Iowa
- Iowa Geographic Map Explorer has a wide diversity of public spatial data sources to be explored in their interactive online map.
- Water monitoring mapping application from the Iowa DNR allows users to explore different sized watersheds throughout the state.
- Historical imagery archive from the Iowa DNR allows users to examine images that capture land use throughout the state dating back to the 1930s. Zoom into your farm or home and then select the year from the "Basemaps" dropdown in the upper left.
- Landforms of Iowa over Iowa counties (PDF)
- USDA online Web Soil Survey
- Soil Explorer shows statewide patterns in soil properties.
Short readings on Iowa’s ecosystems and conservation history
- Iowa's Nature - Landforms and Geology - Information on the geologic history of Iowa and the stories of our history contained in the minerals, rocks, and fossils around the state. This article is a nice supplement to the Iowa's Lands and Waters lecture in Module 1.
- Iowa's Nature - Soils - An introduction the make up and structure of soils in Iowa.
- Iowa's Nature - Influential Voices - Describes many key figures in the history of conservation and land stewardship in Iowa and nationally.
- Iowa's Nature - State Symbols - An exploration of symbols of Iowa's nature, include some legally designated symbols and other iconic elements of Iowa's ecosystems and wildlife.
- Rare species of Northeast Iowa's Air Conditioned Slopes - Details on the unique ecosystems in Northeastern Iowa's Paleozoic Plateau.
- Learn about Ada Hayden, Iowa's original champion for prairies and prairie conservation, from the digital archives at Iowa State University
- Learn about some of the conservation legacy of George Washington Carver in this short article.
*Note the Iowa's Nature Series will be featured in many modules of the Master Conservationist Program. Check out the project's landing page for all 10 articles in the series and to download high-resolution graphics developed for the series.
Books about conservation and the environment in Iowa
- The Emerald Horizon: The History of Nature in Iowa, Cornelia Mutel (2007)
- A Country So Full of Game: The Story of Wildlife in Iowa, James Dinsmore (1994)
- Fragile Giants: A natural history of the Loess Hills, Cornelia Mutel (1989)
- A Sugar Creek Chronicle: Observing climate change from a Midwestern woodland, Cornelia Mutel (2016)
- Iowa's Geological Past: Three billion years of change, Wayne I. Anderson (1998)
- Iowa's Natural Heritage, Tom Cooper (1982)
- Iowa's Wild Places, Carl Kurtz (1996)
- Landforms of Iowa, Jean Prior (1991)
- Places of Quiet Beauty: Parks, Preserves, and Environmentalism, Rebecca Conard (1997)
- Iowa - Portrait of the Land, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (2000) (free pdf download of the book)
Biographies about important figures in conservation in Iowa
- My Work Is That of Conservation: An Environmental Biography of George Washington Carver, Mark Hersey (2011)
- Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work, Curt Meine (1991)
- Gladys Black: The legacy of Iowa's Bird Lady, Larry Stone and Jon Stravers (2010)
- Ding: The Life of Jay Norwood Darling, David Lendt (2000)
- Sylvan T. Runkel : Citizen of the Natural World, Larry Stone (2003)
Nationally significant books about conservation and land stewardship
- A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold (1949)
- The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America, Timothy Egan (2009)
- An American Crusade for Wildlife, James Trefethen (1975)
- Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013)
- Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, David Montgomery (2007)
Iowa Conservation Organizations
- Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
- Ducks Unlimited
- The Nature Conservancy
- Pheasants and Quail Forever
- National Wild Turkey Federation
- Audubon Society
Conservation Agencies in Iowa
- Links to Iowa's County Conservation Boards
- Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
- Conservation Districts of Iowa
- Iowa DNR Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP)
- Iowa DNR conservation pages for forestry and wildlife
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges in Iowa
Periodicals and mass media on conservation in Iowa
- Iowa Outdoors magazine, published by Iowa DNR
- Iowa Outdoors television program produced by Iowa Public Broadcasting (YouTube channel with past episodes)
- This episode (27 minutes) of Iowa Outdoors focused on conservation issues in Iowa and provides a great overview of topics we'll discuss more in the course including habitat restoration, endangered species, invasive species, and community engagement.
Do you have ideas for how we can improve this online module? Did we miss a resource that you think should be included? Were elements too long or too short? Too technical or not technical enough? Please help us improve the Master Conservationist Program by providing feedback on this short online form?