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Instructor Information & Event Descriptions

Instructor/speaker biographical information & the events they will be facilitating are listed alphabetically by last name. Please click on links to individual & organization websites for more information about our facilitators & their missions.

Connie Betts is Harrison County Conservation’s Naturalist. Whooo’s There? What is that sound in the night? What owls are flying around and what are they eating? Bring the kids to learn all about Iowa owls, listen to their calls, and find out their adaptations to live at night. We’ll also dissect owl pellets to see what they have been eating and everyone gets to take the bones home! All materials supplied.

Connie Mutel
Friday Night Session Title: Special Announcement - Tending Iowa’s Land
Tending Iowa's Land: Pathways to a Sustainable Future is the first book to examine all categories of Iowa's major environmental problems, their interacting complexities, and solutions for restoring nature's resilience. Connie Mutel, editor, will introduce the book and its major themes, which was written by her and 28 contributing authors. Books will be available for sale.

Saturday Morning Session:
Come discuss Iowa's environmental problems and their hopeful solutions, as outlined in the new book, Tending Iowa's Land: Pathways to a Sustainable Future. Book editor Connie Mutel and chapter authors Pauline Drobney, Marlene Ehresman, Tom Rosburg, Kathy Woida, and possibly others will explain what they have proposed and will welcome your ideas. Books will be available for sale.

Jeanne Bockholt is a member of the Northwest Iowa Group of the Sierra ClubNorthwest Iowa Group Sierra Club will be leading My Patchwork Prairie on Friday night and Saturday night.

Butch Bowman is an instructor of the 4-H S.E.S.S. (Safety Education Shooting Sports) program. During Introduction to Archery, participants will learn how to handle a bow and arrows in a safe manner. You will also be able to practice target shooting.

Lance Brisbois of the Golden Hills RC&D will lead a Bike Tour of the Loess Hills on gravel roads through the Loess Hills around Turin. Bring your own gravel-friendly bike, a helmet, and water. The route will be 10-15 miles and include some hills but also flatter sections.


Mark, Ed, & Lee Brogie are a family of naturalists that have a passion for sharing their knowledge about birds at the seminar. They will be leading early Birding Walks for All Ages. Each will be offered in the early morning hours to ensure a variety of birds can be seen both Saturday and Sunday morning. Some binoculars will be provided. The Brogies will also provide a Bird Tour by Auto. Car caravan to several different habitat stops in the Loess Hills. You can choose to leave to be back by the 10:15AM session.

Doug Chafa works as the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist for the Missouri River Wildlife Management Unit, which totals seven counties. He and his team are based out of Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, IA and manage such areas as the Loess Hills Wildlife area, the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve, and organize the annual pre-LHPS, G.R.A.S.S. event.

Theresa Dehn is a 200-hour certified yoga teacher.

Judy Ehlers, Chair of Monona County’s Historic Preservation Commission and retired school teacher will be leading a session on the Mann Country School Experience: Visit the Mann Country School and learn what a typical classroom day was like for a one-room country schoolhouse. Activities to include writing on a blackboard and using nib (fountain) pens. The Hidden Past of the South Jordan Cemetery: Judy will be discussing the history and importance of preserving this historic site, located north of Moorhead, IA.

Marlene Ehresman is the co-founder and executive director of the Iowa Wildlife Center. A wildlife biologist by academic training, she is also a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with experience caring for many Iowa wildlife species, including several lovely native snakes. Marlene has been coming to the LHPS since her sons were in grade school (one just turned 44) and has given several programs over the years, solo or with her husband, Bruce (who will be seeking birds with Wendy while Marlene flips snake boards with Terry).

Terry VanDeWalle is a principal biologist with Stantec Consulting Services and an adjunct natural resources instructor at Hawkeye Community College. He is also an Iowa Wildlife Center founding Board of Directors member and IWC’s current president. He has been conducting research on Iowa’s reptiles and amphibians for over 30 years, working closely with the IDNR and USFWS. His new book, The Natural History of the Snakes and Lizards of Iowa, is hot off the press and he’ll have a few copies available for purchase. While his wife, Wendy, will seek the whip-poor-will in the Loess Hills, Terry will be flipping snake boards.

The Natural Hissstory and Other Fassscinating Factsss about Iowa'sss Sssnakesss: Of course, snakes are another often-maligned animal associated with evil, death, and a big dose of ICK. Is a snake a reptile or an amphibian and what’s the difference? How many groups of reptiles are there? Just what makes snakes so unique (reproduction, food capture, movement, and hibernation for starters)? What are some of the primary obstacles humans place in front of these magnificent animals and what does the amputation of one of a snake’s penises have to do with this? (Say WHAT??) What habitats do they choose?  What species exist in Iowa? In the Loess Hills? How can we help them -- Management? Understanding? Respect? They are, after all, sssuper sssensssational.

Shayne Bennett is currently a Wayne State College student and is an enthusiast who enjoys learning about and practicing primitive skills. Join them for their program - Primitive Hunting Tools: Atlatl - Come learn about early hunting tools, hunting tool construction, and test your aim by learning how to use a real atlatl and getting to launch real atlatl darts. Program is family friendly, all ages and abilities are welcome. Program supplies provided by the Woodbury County Conservation’s Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center.

Dan Fogell is a herpetologist as well as a Life and Human Sciences Instructor at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, NE. Dan’s goals are to get students interested in the natural sciences...even if science is not their major...and to allow them opportunities to be involved in actual scientific research and studies. Dan’s current research interests are centered on the distributions of Great Plains herpetofauna as well as the various factors that affect those distributions, such as habitat availability, alterations in land use, and global climate change. Dan has a particular interest in those species that reach their distributional boundaries within the Great Plains. In 2010, he published “A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Nebraska” which provides species accounts, photographs, and distribution maps for all 62 amphibian and reptile species native to Nebraska. Dan is an active member of both the Nebraska and Kansas Herpetological Societies and is also on the Board of Directors for the Center for North American Herpetology (CNAH). Dan is also the Editor for the Journal of North American Herpetology and the Associate Editor for Herpetology for the Prairie Naturalist.

Amphibians & Reptiles of the Loess Hills - A discussion and presentation of the herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) of the Loess Hills will include a display of live animals for visitors to see.      

Karen Grimes
Title: Meditative Stitching on the Prairie
Take a break from life’s hectic pace. Slow down and slow stitch a prairie memory. Materials (fabric, needle and thread) provided. But bring small scissors, and a photo if you have a specific flower or other subject that inspires you.

Brian Hazlett is a professor at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City. He is leading a session on Woody Plants for Beginners. This session is designed for those who wish to gain a greater familiarity with our local trees, shrubs, and vines. Participants should expect a medium walk on level ground.

Chris Helzer
Keynote Presentation Title: Stories of Prairie Diversity and Resilience
Prairies are full of complex and fascinating interactions between an incredible diversity of species. Anywhere you look, there are amazing stories to be found – stories of beauty, adaptation, and survival. Prairies are certainly at risk and need our help, but we sometimes spend too much time worrying about their future. Let’s take a few minutes to celebrate the wonder of prairies and make sure we remember why they’re worth worrying about in the first place. We’ll also talk about what each of us can do to help ensure that they’ll still be around many generations from now.
Field Session Title: Diving More Deeply into Prairies
Much of the astonishing diversity of prairies is small and hidden from first glances. Let’s spend some time focused on the tiny wonders that can be found in any prairie. This won’t be a long distance hike because we’ll be spending most of our time crouched down or kneeling in the grass so we can see what really makes the prairie engine run.

Chuck Hopp has gained his skill through the Wilderness Awareness School in Washington. Nature Awareness & the Art of Mentoring - We will learn new ways to move and interact with nature. Through natural movement, sense meditation, storytelling, discussions and nature games. May also include bird language and animal tracking.

Deb Lewis is the herbarium curator at Iowa State University and a board member and the newsletter editor for the Iowa Native Plant Society. Who’s Your Neighbor? A Plant’s-Eye View of the Prairie - A hands-on, non-technical introduction to prairie plant interactions with their living and non-living environment. We’ll begin with a walk, then sit in the prairie (an old towel or cushion might make it more comfortable). Rich Pope is the chair of the Loess Hills Alliance. He returned to western Iowa after a career with ISU Extension.

Kelly Madigan is a property owner and Airbnb host, who walked the entire length of the Loess Hills in Iowa in the fall of 2020. More on that here: Patrick Swanson is a private landowner and author who has been working to restore a native prairie remnant in Harrison County.  You can read more about his project here: The LoHi Trail: A Vision of Connectivity & Safe Passage through the Loess Hills - What if there was a continuous safe route for creatures of all kinds throughout the Loess Hills? What would it take to connect the existing blocks of wild land? We’ll discuss the conservation benefits, why the Loess Hills are uniquely suited for this, and what a long-distance walking route would look like. We will also identify significant obstacles, and invite participants to brainstorm about overcoming them.

Loess Hills Writers Present
Join both emerging and established writers who utilize the Loess Hills as a focus for their creative work. Each writer will share a short selection, and then we’ll discuss the growing sense of community among Loess Hills writers. Is there a regional literary identity and aesthetic forming?

Kay Neumann is the Director of S.O.A.R - Saving Our Avian Resources. This is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1999 dedicated to “saving our avian resources” through raptor rehabilitation, education, and research. Join Kay at the S.O.A.R. Raptor Program and meet her birds, learn bird-of-prey behavior, and learn about some of the raptors that call the Loess Hills home. Hopefully, Kay will have a raptor ready for release!

Sarah Nizzi is a member of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and a Farm Bill Pollinator Conservation Planner and NRCS Partner Biologist. Currently, Sarah covers all of Iowa, providing technical and financial assistance to farmers and landowners interested in pollinator conservation, as well as training NRCS and partner staff on pollinators and pollinator habitat. Sarah is originally from central Iowa and is a graduate from Drake University with a bachelor's of science in environmental science.

Loess Hills Pollinators
Join Sarah Nizzi, our keynote speaker from last year’s seminar, on a short walk searching for pollinators. While searching, Sarah will discuss native pollinator species and specifically, those found in the Loess Hills ecoregion.

Jane Grace O’Connor is a certified Nebraska Naturalist and a Certified Herbalist, She currently works as a Naturalist with Nebraska Game and Parks. As a Naturalist, she teaches many outdoor skills instruction to adults and children--for example, fishing, hiking, backpacking, fire building, etc. She has hiked around Nebraska and Iowa trails, including the 2021 LoHi Trek. She has hiked multiple days/weeks in the Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota, Yellowstone, a portion of the Appalachian trail (Virginia), and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Backpacking 101: Have you ever wondered how to plan for a backpacking trip? Are you prepared? Gain
knowledge and learn the essentials you will need to begin your backpacking journey.

Don Poggensee is a very talented photographer who enjoys every chance he can to live out his passion. He has been coming to the seminar year after year offering programs and using his talent by photographing this event. Don will offer two programs: Prairie Photography and Digital Images. His sessions will include an introduction in how to capture the best photo in the field, setting up a photo shoot, selecting a subject, lighting, and best composition. Checking exposure and knowing your camera settings will help you capture that great image! (Note: Please bring your own camera to this session.)

Andrea Porter is a former Monona County Conservation Naturalist. She is currently subbing for the Sioux Falls School District and provides environmental education programming on contract for Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum. Katie Hoeppner is an Iowa Department of Natural Resources Park Ranger at Lewis and Clark State Park. Josh Schaben is the current Monona County Conservation Deputy-Director and Park Ranger. Tyler Ruge is the current Monona County Conservation Naturalist and Event Coordinator for the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar. Kayaking & Fishing in the Loess Hills - Do you have the desire to learn the fundamentals of fishing and kayaking? Join us to gain some life skills in these two great recreational activities. There will be a short drive to a local pond. Please be ready to be near and or on the water. Also, be prepared with the possibility of getting wet. Water shoes may be desired as well as sunscreen, hat, water, and camera.    

Glen Pollock & Doug Chafa
Title: Tracking of Migratory Birds using Wireless and Computer Technology (MOTUS)
We will travel to Lewis and Clark state park to see the MOTUS migratory bird tracking telemetry receiving station. Discussion will focus on the installation and operation of the station and how the public can use and contribute to the information collected. For reference, see the website

Glenn Pollock, Scott Wendell, & Kody Wohlers
Title: Landowner Options for Creating Public Land & the Advantage for the Landowner & the

Join Glenn Pollock for a discussion with INHF representative Kody Wohlers and Scott Wendell, a landowner who recently donated land to INHF. This discussion will focus on how non-landowners, just by knowing the process involved, can help protect natural areas by bringing non-profits and landowners together.

Dr. Tom Rosburg is an expert in the field of biology and professor at Drake University. Nature Scavenger Hunt for Kids - This is a hands-on, fun-filled activity for kids ages 5 to 12. We will take nets and bottles to nearby areas to look for natural treasures and collect or observe items on a nature checklist. Parents are welcome to join us. Prairie Flora of the Loess Hills - This session will explore the prairie ridges and slopes in the Sylvan Runkel State Preserve to find and identify plants, provide identification tips, and discuss their biology and ecology. At least 125 plant species in the Preserve are native to the prairie communities on the Preserve. We’ll make an effort to find 100 of those prairie species. It will be a moderate to long hike, but we go pretty slow.   

Kari Sandage is a Woodbury County Conservation Naturalist at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center in Sioux City, IA. Insect Safari - During this interactive family program, we will learn all about bugs and why they are important. We will also go on an “Insect Safari” where we will walk and look for bugs. Nets and bug carriers will be provided so that kids can catch, study, and release the critters we find.

Larry Stone is a semi-retired freelance writer/photographer/lecturer. Advocating for the Land - Learn to communicate your passion for environmental issues in an informal discussion and workshop. He will share writing samples and critiques.

Bill Zales is very active in the conservation community within the greater Siouxland area. Bill is a retired professor from Joliet Illinois Junior College. Bryophytes (Mosses & Liverworts) of the Loess Hills - Meet the most overlooked members of the prairie ecosystem. Observe their interesting structures and learn their role in the Loess Hills. Learn to identify a few species. Loess Hills Mammals - Specimens of almost all of the mammals occurring in the Hills will be displayed and their biology discussed. Some are very common, some are rarely seen and some threatened with extinction.

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