Thursday, November 20, 2014

Winter Bird Feeding/Watching & Winter Wildlife Habitat Workshop

Date: Saturday, December 6, 2014
Time: 10 AM - 11:15 AM
Location: Oelwein Library
Cost: Free!
Who: All Ages / Public Workshop

    Snow and cold weather are part of this time of year, so how about learning more about enjoying the winter activity of bird watching and feeding, plus wildlife tracking and habitats? 

    The Fayette Iowa State University Extension and Outreach office is hosting a free public workshop about Winter Bird Feeding/Watching & Winter Wildlife Habitat.  

    For many this is a fun way to appreciate nature and help birds survive.  In fact, the US Fish and Wildlife Service reports that 51.3 million (one out of six) Americans enjoy this, making it the fastest growing outdoor sport.  

    Speakers for the workshop include Dawn L. Amundson, Fayette County Conservation Board Environmental Education Coordinator, and Ron Lenth, Iowa State University Extension & Outreach – Fayette County Program Coordinator.  

    The workshop is free and open to the public.  

    Join in the excitement of learning what birds might come to visit bird feeders, make your own "Recycled Bird Feeder" to take home if you want to, and more. 

    Educational handout materials and samples of various feed types and feeders will be on display.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Egg Story! New Program Being Offered in 2015!

    Last year as some of you who visited the Gilbertson Nature Center during May’s field trip season discovered I used my personal incubator to hatch some eggs.  It was a fun and excited to do and the kids seemed to enjoy learning about “The Egg Story”. 

    In visiting some of the classrooms I noted that some of teachers also were trying to hatch eggs as part of a lesson.  Some had good luck, others had very poor luck.  In talking with not only those teachers who had tried or were trying to hatch eggs I also found others who were interested in trying but had no access to an incubator, eggs to hatch or even a place for the chicks to go once they hatched.

    I did offer the use of my personal incubator for those who might interested in using, but reminded them a schedule would have to be made so that as many teachers could use it as possible.  Plus my hope is to hatch more eggs at the nature center during field trip season in 2015.

    Well an opportunity came for me to acquire two small Incubator’s and other support equipment to go with them.  So I have set up 2 hatching kits that can be checked out and used in the classroom.

The kits include:
1 Brinsea Mini Advanced Incubator
        [holds 7 regular size chicken eggs]
OvaScope Cordless Egg Scope
Chick Brooder (for up to 20 chicks)
Plastic Chick enclosure
Lesson Plan Manual on a CD
Binder that includes a printed off
        Lesson Plan Manual, all of the needed 
        instructions, pictures, and more.
Additional Lesson Plans, Crafts, 
        Support Information, Work Sheets and 
        more all on a DVD
•       Incubator Disinfectant concentrated

The kit can also include if needed:
7 Hatching Eggs
Starter Chick Feed
Vitamins for the water
A home for the chicks once they are ready to leave the classroom
Books [A list of what books can be checked out will be provided before the kit arrives 
        so the teacher can pick the one’s they would like in the kit.]

    Below is a link to a Google Doc, this Doc has a lot of Chicken Hatching Resources than can help you.  A copy of this Doc. will also be included in the Binder that comes with the kit.

    This program can only be done almost year round but remember it takes 21 days for chicken eggs to hatch.  Time is also needed for setting up the incubator and cleaning up the incubator so plan for 24 to 25 days using the kit.  It will be possible to split the kit up so that once the chicks are hatched and are in the brooder another teacher can start using the incubator.  The best time of the year is August, September, March and April.

    The program can be done in October, November, December, January, or February.  But I may or may not have eggs that will hatch due to the cold temperatures outside.

    This kit meets many of the US National Science Education Standards.   The kit includes information about what national standards it meets for Grades 3 – 5 and 6 – 8.  But in looking over the US National Science Education Standards for Preschool – 2nd grade this kit meets those standards also.

    The Naturalist is also willing to do as many or as few support programs to help the teacher use this kit successfully in their classroom.

    If you are interested in “The Egg Story!” and your school district is in or part of it is in Fayette County contact Dawn L. Amundson to schedule you program, check out of the kit or both at 563-426-5740 or

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Haunted Corn Maze

Food, Fun and Spooks!

Saturday, November 1, 2014
6 - 9 PM
$5 per person no matter what the age

Kid Friendly Trick or Treating, Games, Food

Sunday, November 2, 2014
1 - 3 PM
$5 for persons 6 years old and older
$2 for persons 5 years old and younger

Sponsored By:
SODA (Students Okay Without Drugs and Alcohol)
St. Paul Lutheran Jr. & Sr. Youth (Allamakee County Thrivent 31119)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Household Hazardous Waste Days

Fayette County Residents may dispose of your hazardous household liquids free of charge.

Friday, October 3, 2014
3:00 - 6:00 PM
West Union City Shop Parking Lot

Saturday, October 4, 2014
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Oelwein Fire Station Parking Lot


  • Gasoline and Diesel Additives
  • Degreasers
  • Waxes and Polishes
  • Solvents
  • Paints (No Latex Based Paint)
  • Lacquers and Thinners
  • Caustic household cleaners
  • Spot and Stain removers
  • Pesticides

NO Fluorescent tubes, bulbs, or batteries.

For information contact:
Fayette County Transfer Station 563-425-3037
Fayette County Recycling Center 563-422-3712

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Opening for the Season!!!!

Gilbertson Nature Center
Mavis and Conner Dummermuth Historical Building
Hart Dummermuth Historical House
Petting Zoo
OPEN for the Season
Saturday, May 24, 2014

    The Gilbertson Conservation Education Area’s Gilbertson Nature Center, Mavis and Conner Dummermuth Historical Building and Hart Dummermuth Historical House and Petting Zoo will OPEN to the general pubic.

    They will be OPEN: Wednesday - Sunday, 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM or by appointment.

    They will be open Monday, May 26, 2014 and Monday, September 1, 2014, 11 AM - 7 PM.  Date and Times subject to change by management.

      The petting zoo’s last day open to the general public will be September 1, 2014.  The petting zoo will not be open during inclement weather.

      Starting on September 2, 2014 the building will only be open when the Maize Maze opens them or by appointment.

      If you have a group that would like to visit please make an appointment one to two weeks in advance of the visit by calling the Nature Center at 563-426-5740 or 

TAKO and FCCB to host Youth Fishing Event

Saturday, June 7, 2014
9 AM - 1 PM
Gilbertson Conservation Education Area Pond

ELGIN – Free fishing weekend in Iowa is fast approaching, and what better way to celebrate than to take a kid fishing?

    Take a Kid Outdoors (TAKO) and the Fayette County Conservation Board (FCCB) invites area families to join them Saturday, June 7 at the Gilbertson Conservation Education Area fishing pond east of Elgin. The event will start at 9 a.m. and is scheduled to continue until 1 p.m. Lunch will be available. Adults can join in the fishing fun or just help their kids. Participants can bring their own equipment, and a limited number of rods and reels will be available for check out during the event. A limited about of worms will also be available. For those who are new to the sport or who need a refresher, a basic casting practice will be offered.

    June 6-8 is Free Fishing Days in Iowa. The annual event hosted by Iowa Department of Natural Resources gives all Iowa residents a chance to experience fishing without having to purchase a license. The event is only for Iowa residents, and all other fishing regulations must be obeyed.

    For more information, call the Gilbertson Nature Center at 563-426-5740 or email

    Participants should dress for the weather, bring bug repellant, suntan lotion, water to drink, and anything else needed to be comfortable in the outdoors. Participants are encouraged to bring a digital camera and/or binoculars. TAKO is dedicated to encouraging outdoor encounters for children with the adults in their lives, so children must be accompanied by an adult.

    TAKO is a 501-(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2006. TAKO, based in Fayette County, is dedicated to providing immersive outdoor experiences, activities and education to children and people of all ages in the great outdoors. Please "like us" on Facebook and watch for updates/cancellations on Facebook and the TAKO website at

    For questions regarding the information in this release or TAKO in general, please contact Amelia Holden-McMurray at 319-230-5427 or

Fayette County Conservation Boards 2014 Camping Season Costs

Season Passes for 2014
$350.00 for the 2014 Camping Season

Camping Season Coupon Book 2014
$150.00 for 11 nights of camping for the 2014 Camping Season

Gilbertson Conservation Education Area
Gouldsburg Park
$15.00/night with electricity
$10.00/night without electricity
$10.00/night Equestrian Camping at Gilbertson

Dutton’s Cave Park
$8.00/night with electricity
$5.00/night without electricity

Goeken Park
Twin Bridges Park
Echo Valley State Park

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gilbertson Conservation Education Area as been Nominated as one of Silos & Smokestacks’ Partner Sites Compete for People’s Choice “Site of the Year”

Northeast Iowa – Each year, Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area (SSNHA) celebrates the best in heritage development by presenting Golden Silo Awards to individuals and organizations whose contributions demonstrate outstanding excellence in preserving and telling America’s agricultural story. The People’s Choice “Site of the Year” is a special award presented to one deserving SSNHA Partner Site, where the public decides the winner from a group of nominees.

From March 17 through April 1, voting will be open online at, with detailed schedule listed below:
March 17-23
First-Round (11 Nominees)
March 25-April 1
Second-Round (3 Finalists)
April 2
Winner announced during Golden Silo Awards

This year’s People’s Choice “Site of the Year” nominees include:
Calkins Nature Area, Iowa Falls
Gilbertson Conservation Education Area, Elgin
Heartland Acres Agribition Center, Independence
Hurstville Interpretive Center, Maquoketa
Iowa's Dairy Center, Calmar
Jasper County Historical Museum, Newton
Living History Farms, Urbandale
Montauk Historic Site, Clermont
Strawberry Hill Farm & Garden, Strawberry Point
Vesterheim Norwegian - American Museum, Decorah
Winneshiek County Historical Society-Locust School Museum, Decorah

Show your support for your favorite nominee and join us for the annual Golden Silo Awards Luncheon on April 2 from 12:00-1:30 p.m. at the Black’s Building Sky Room, Waterloo, Iowa. Laurie Johns of the Iowa Farm Bureau will present the keynote “Telling Today’s Story of Iowa Agriculture,” sharing what she has learned from 25 years as an Emmy-winning TV and radio news anchor and reporter. The luncheon will also feature an Iowa pork inspired meal. Tickets for this event are $25 per person, with reservations due by March 26. For more information or to register, visit or call 319-234-4567. Thank you to the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and Iowa Pork Producers Association for their support of this year’s awards luncheon.

Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area is one of 49 federally designated heritage areas in the nation and is an Affiliated Area of the National Park Service. The Heritage Area covers 37 counties in the northeast quadrant of Iowa. Interstate 80 borders it on the south and Interstate 35 borders it on the west. Through a network of sites, programs and events, SSNHA interprets farm life, agribusiness and rural communities – past and present.

Please Click: 
to Vote for the Gilbertson Conservation Education Area

Encourage all of your friends and family to vote too!!!!

Thank you!!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hunter Education Safety Class - March, 29 & 30, 2014

Gilbertson Nature Center
Saturday, March 29, 2014
7:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday, March 30, 2014
7:30 AM – 2:30 PM

    Participants must Pre-Register by March 19, 2014 to be able to participate in the class.

    Hunter Safety Education Class is required according to Iowa law; any one born after January 1, 1972 is required to complete and pass a Hunter Education Safety Class to be able to purchase an Iowa Hunting License.  This certification will also meet the requirements of other states.

    Participants must be a minimum of 11 years of age.

    This is a Regular Classroom Hunter Education Safety Class NOT an Internet Field Test.

    Attendance is required for each of the full two days!

    To pre-register or for more information call Dawn at the Gilbertson Nature Center at 563-426-5740 or e-mail:  If the answering machine answers please leave the first and last name(s) of the person(s) who what to be in the class, phone number for contacting them so I can confirm they are signed up and to make arrangement on how the student can get a study guide to do the required chapter reviews for the first day of class.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Iowa Citizens Help Track Imperiled Wildlife

It’s 10 o’clock on a summer night along a gravel road anywhere in Iowa. In the farm pond next to the road a raucous chorus of male frogs are making themselves heard as they vie for mates.  A volunteer stands clipboard in hand, ear cocked, mentally sorting out each of the calling species and the number of individuals using this seemingly ordinary pond.  

Skip to a Saturday morning by the river where another volunteer has binoculars trained on the tallest tree in the area.  In this tree is a one ton nest, home to two bald eagles and their young.  Are there two or three young in that nest?  Hard to tell and a follow up visit will be needed; in the meantime, notes are taken and a peaceful hour is spent watching one of the most spectacular birds in North America.  

These volunteers collecting data were trained through Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program.  

 “We don’t have enough staff in the DNR to adequately monitor all the vulnerable species that we need to,” said program coordinator Stephanie Shepherd. “This is where citizen scientists play a crucial role.”  

Volunteers must register for and attend a training workshop in order to participate. 

Each March and April, Shepherd holds workshops to prepare volunteers to collect data on some of Iowa’s critical wildlife. Bird workshops will be held on March 8th in Algona and March 15th in Elgin, at the Public Library in the ICN/meeting Room.  The frog and toad survey workshop will be held on April 15th in Peterson. For more information go to or send an e-mail to  

So what are these critical wildlife species?

The bird workshop focuses on some of Iowa’s more spectacular bird species such as bald eagles, osprey, peregrine falcons and colonially nesting water birds like herons and egrets.  

Volunteers are taught how to collect data on specific nesting sites around the state and submit pertinent data such as how many young birds fledge. “This data collection requires lots of patience and some good optics in order to watch the nest from a distance and not disturb the birds,” Shepherd said.  

The frog and toad survey is more aural than visual.  

Volunteers are trained to listen to and recognize the 16 species of frogs and toads in Iowa based on their breeding calls.  Volunteers drive back country roads at night along a specified route stopping occasionally to get out and listen and record the different species heard. 

“The Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program provides an opportunity for adults who love the outdoors and wildlife to be directly involved with the conservation and monitoring of Iowa’s resources. The work done is crucial to the well-being of these species,” Shepherd said.   

Media Contact: Stephanie Shepherd, Wildlife Diversity Biologist, Wildlife Diversity Program, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 515-432-2823.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Winter Survival Day!!!!

Saturday, February 15. 2014
10 AM - 2 PM
Gilbertson Conservation Education Area
Gilbertson Nature Center, 22580 A Ave., Elgin, Iowa 52141

ELGIN – With winter stretching on across northeast Iowa, it’s a good time to learn what to do if you find yourself outside in the cold.

The Take a Kid Outdoors organization and the Fayette County Conservation Board will host a winter survival day. The event will include winter survival preparations, instructions and practice starting a fire in cold weather and shelter building.  TAKO will provide lunch.

Participants should dress to be outside in the winter weather, including layers of warm clothing, warm boots, mittens/gloves, stocking hat or face-mask, coat, snow pants and any additional clothing or accessories needed to be comfortable. Portions of the event will take place in the nature center, and participants will be able to remove layers when inside.

TAKO is dedicated to encouraging outdoor encounters for children with the adults in their lives, so children must be accompanied by an adult.

Those planning to attend are encouraged to pre-register by calling Gilbertson Nature Center at 563-426-5740 or by emailing

TAKO is a 501-(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2006. TAKO, based in Fayette County, is dedicated to providing immersive outdoor experiences, activities and education to children and people of all ages in the great outdoors. Please "like us" on Facebook and watch for updates/cancellations on Facebook and the TAKO website at

For questions regarding the information in this release or TAKO in general, please contact Amelia Holden-McMurray at 319-230-5427 or

Here is a link to a poster you can print off and share:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cross-Country Ski Clinics

     The Fayette County Conservation Board will be once again holding cross-country ski clinics. 

     Participants will learn about basic cross-country ski equipment, helpful recovery techniques and the kick and glide method.

    Participants can either use the FCCB’s equipment for a $1.00 fee or bring their own equipment.  Approximately 35 people can use FCCB equipment per clinic.  

    Participants must pre-register in order to participate in the clinic(s) of their choice.  The following information is required about each person participating: First and Last Name, Phone Number and Shoe Size (please indicate men's, women's, or children's).  

    Please call the Gilbertson Nature Center for more information or to pre-register at 536-426-5740 or e-mail for the Cross-country Ski Clinics.

January 2014:
Due to snow not being safe to Cross-country Ski on.
Saturday, January 11, 2014 = Cross-country Ski Clinics, 10 AM – 12 PM & 1 – 3 PM
Gilbertson Conservation Education Area, Gilbertson Nature Center

Due to very Inclement Weather!
NEWLY Added as of 1/8/2014:
Saturday, January 25, 2014 = Cross-country Ski Clinics, 10 AM – 12 PM & 1 – 3 PM
Gilbertson Conservation Education Area, Gilbertson Nature Center

CANCELLED by Clayton County due to cold and not enough people signed up to hold the clinic. Additional Cross-country Ski Clinics
February 2014:
Saturday, February 1, 2014 = “Snow Fun”, Osborn Nature Center, TBA
Cross-country Skiing Clinics and Snow Shoeing Clinics are being offered.  Cost $1.00 per person.
    Please contact (563) 245-1516 to pre-register for one or more of these two clinics.