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LHPS 2023:
Head for the Hills!

Save the date for June 2-4, 2023 for the 46th Annual Loess Hills Prairie Seminar. This year's theme is "Head for the Hills."


This Eventbrite registration site is used to pre-order optional meals. Follow this link for more information about this year's offerings:

Link to Eventbrite

If you have any questions or would like to participate in LHPS as a speaker, volunteer, or in another role, please email:

We hope to see you this summer!

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Loess Hills Prairie Seminar:
Head for the Hills

Come explore, learn, and relax in the Heart of the Loess Hills in Monona County, Iowa for the 46th Anniversary of the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar!

Save The Date:

June 2nd-4th, 2023

Friday - 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Saturday - 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM  

Sunday - 6:00 AM - 12:00 PM

*Primitive camping & car camping on site. No electrical hook ups. No running water. A solar-powered phone charging station will be available.

PLEASE NOTE: We will be updating our website periodically throughout the months leading up to our 2023 gathering. Some information currently available here reflects our 2022 event and is not necessarily what will be offered next year, but is generally reflective of the sorts of programming, activities, and amenities we seek to provide. Our finalized schedule should be available by Spring. Thank you for your patience, and do feel free to reach out with any questions in the meantime!

"Getting people; getting children acquainted with what's out here will make people concerned about what is happening here. If we get acquainted with natural communities we feel at home. Any place we feel at home, we feel like protecting."

~Sylvan Runkel


We are looking for silent auction items to help generate funds to run the seminar from year to year. If you are planning on attending, just bring the item(s) with you.


Please Click the Following Links:

Driving Directions

G.R.A.S.S. Event Map

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PLEASE NOTE: Due to a change in availability, our indoor evening events will be held at the Onawa Community Center instead of West Monona High School.

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Weekend Activities:

This seminar was developed to serve students of all ages, educators, families, professionals in the conservation field, and all community members. Each year we see families come back. It has grown to be a multi-generational event.

Please click on the corresponding buttons below to view this year's scheduled events and activities.

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Pre-Seminar G.R.A.S.S. Event

Friday Evening Events

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Saturday Field Sessions & Events

Sunday Field Sessions & Events


The Loess Hills Are One of Iowa's Last Wilderness Areas!

This seminar attempts to connect attendees from all walks of life to this precious wilderness. Plan to enjoy a wonderful weekend in Iowa's Loess Hills!

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Information for Teachers

Attending the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar is worth one unit of teacher continuing education through the AEA. Please click the link below to log in to the AEA portal.

PLEASE NOTE: If you don't already have an account, you will need to create one if you wish to earn license renewal credit. If you aren't a teacher or associated with a school district, then you should create an account as a Pay Customer. You will be able to register the day after you create the account.

Iowa's Area Education Agencies
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2022 T-Shirts

A variety of t-shirt options featuring last year's theme design are available for purchase. Click the button below to view our storefront.

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Carolyn Benne

Founder of the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar

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Larry Benne

Founder of the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar


Dianne Blankenship

Retired Loess Hills Prairie Seminar Coordinator

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Andrea Porter

Former Loess Hills Prairie Seminar Coordinator


Tyler Ruge

Current Loess Hills Prairie Seminar Coordinator

The Loess Hills Seminar began in 1977 with a group of approximately 25 people who wanted to study the unique characteristics of this special area. To get an accurate feeling of the “Hills,” and preserve the delicate ecology, the group backpacked into the interior for the first seminar. Since then the increased number of participants has necessitated a more convenient location. The original idea of preserving the “back to nature” concept  of the seminar however, is still a major goal of the organizers.

The Loess Hills are a geological formation created  thousands of years ago during the glacial periods. The Missouri River Valley flooded every summer with the ice melt from these glaciers. During the cool months, however, the flows declined, creating expansive mud flats. Winds dried and picked up this soil causing huge dust storms. Much of the wind-blown soil or loess was dropped near the mud flats in “dirt drifts” exceeding 200 feet in depth.

There are several reasons why the Loess Hills are unique. The soil itself is composed of “silt-sized” particles. This allows water to rapidly pass, which creates an arid or dry condition. South- and west-facing slopes of the Hills are baked in sunlight, while slopes facing north and east are more shaded. These shaded slopes are often wooded with relatively young stands of Bur Oak.

The sunny, steep slopes have remained in native grasses and flowers, genetically tied to the same vegetation that was here before settlers arrived. The combination and quality of both timber and prairie make this ideal for study.

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