Warmer Weather is But a Calendar Entry Away

I don’t know about you, but I’m about sick of winter already. Being stuck inside has inflicted me with a bad case of cabin fever.

But the bright side is that some of this indoor work has included looking at the coming year’s events calendar. And there’s lots there for outdoorspeople like us to be excited about.

So warm up those fingers and get out your calendars. Here are some dates you’ll definitely want to save.

Owl Prowl

Humans aren’t the only ones that feel a little lonely during these dreary months. As barred owls become increasingly active searching for mates, it makes for a good time to prowl the woods at night to hear their calls and possibly even see their antics up close. This year’s Owl Prowl is scheduled, fittingly, on Valentine’s Day starting at 7:00PM at Starr’s Cave Nature Center.

Earth Day Cleanup

And just like that, we’re already looking at spring events. Take some time off from your own spring cleaning and spend a morning tidying up our community. The Keep Burlington Beautiful Earth Day Cleanup is April 13 starting at 8:30AM. Hundreds of volunteers will launch from the Port of Burlington out into surrounding neighborhoods armed with gloves and garbage bags for a good old-fashioned spring cleaning. Everyone will return at noon, dirty and full of community pride, for free lunch and door prizes.

Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) Workshop

May is full of events, starting with a brand new one to Des Moines County. This highly acclaimed international program is a woman-focused outdoor skills workshop headquartered out of Burlington’s Pzazz Events Center the weekend May 3-5. Sessions include introductions to firearms, fishing, archery, game calling and hunting. Other sessions include wilderness survival, canning, foraging for wild edibles, boating, kayaking, bird watching and orienteering, among others.

This event is open to anyone 18 and over with an interest in these kinds of outdoor activities. Absolutely no experience is necessary. To register or to find out more about what’s sure to be an amazing girls’ weekend, go to www.iowadnr.gov/bow or find “Becoming an Outdoors Woman – Iowa” on Facebook.

Youth Jamboree

The second weekend in May brings about the annual Outdoor Youth Jamboree. This day-long event on May 11 offers a little something for the entire family. Activities include boating on the lake, canoeing, fishing, target shooting, and lots more. Help yourself to free lunch and win door prizes while you’re there. It’s a completely free event that annually attracts a thousand or so participants.

As you can imagine, this volunteer-run event takes a lot to organize. And due to the natural turnover in volunteers that tends to happen with these sorts of groups, we’re in serious need of more help. If you’d like to help with the county’s largest outdoor field day, email outdooryouthjamboree@gmail.com.

Critter Catch

May ends with the three-day Memorial Day Weekend and an opportunity to discover the hidden creatures that call Flint Creek home. Come to Starr’s Cave Nature Center on May 25, grab a net and find the various critters hiding under rocks and burrowed in the sand underwater. Naturalists will be on site with microscopes and field guides to help you identify what you find. This event is an annual favorite that attracts hundreds to the creek throughout the morning.

That takes us through May. In June we kick off our monthly Paddle in the Park guided canoe tours on Big Hollow Lake. We’ve even scheduled a full moon paddle in August. Also in August is our annual Summer Celebration event where we celebrate our county parks with games, tours, and a BBQ at Starr’s Cave Nature Center.

But the highlight of the summer for many area youth are Starr’s Cave’s Summer Camps. This year we’ve added a wilderness program for a small group of qualified high school students. We’ll be taking selected applicants to the San Juan Mountains in Colorado for a backpacking and service-learning trip into a designated wilderness area.

Sure, it’s cold out now, but if you really look at the calendar, we’ll be playing outside before you know it. For more information on any upcoming events, check out the events calendar at www.dmcconservation.com or find Des Moines County Conservation or Starr’s Cave Nature Center on Facebook.
This is a modified piece that originally appeared in my "Living Land" column in The Hawk Eye.

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