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Breakdown of the Seminar Experience

The Loess Hills Prairie Seminar is a free annual event that was started back in 1977 (this year is the 47th anniversary) that aims to bring together conservation professionals, environmental educators, nature enthusiasts, and the general public for a weekend of free, educational and hands on sessions in the Loess Hills of Iowa. This year’s seminar is scheduled for May 31st - June 2nd, 2024. The seminar always occurs during the weekend following Memorial Day.

Our event begins on Friday from 9AM-12PM with the pre-seminar activity: the Great Race Against Shrubs and Shade Event. The G.R.A.S.S. Event is dependent on volunteers who work alongside Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation land stewardship interns and staff, IA DNR, The Nature Conservancy, and others at the Reese Homestead Property (22133 Larpenteur Mem. Rd. Turin, IA 51040) to cut and clear invasive brush to help the hillside prairie thrive. Bring Loppers (some provided), sturdy footwear, work gloves and attire, safety glasses and sunscreen.

The next stage of the seminar takes place at the West Monona High School in Onawa, IA at 4PM. From 4-6PM, attendees have an opportunity to socialize with each other, the vendors on site, and view table exhibits set up by natural resource organizations. There is a silent auction open for biding that will close on Saturday night. The programing begins at 6PM with a series of agency updates from natural resource and conservation organizations and then we finish with a keynote presenter from 7:45-8:45PM. We have children’s programing running from 6-8:45PM.

After the keynote presentation, attendees usually retire to the seminar campsite, which is an IA DNR wildlife area (find it by searching “Loess Hills Prairie Seminar Campground” on Google maps) for nighttime activities and campfire.

During the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar, the seminar campsite is both the location of most of the education sessions as well as a free campground for attendees. Additional lodging options: Onawa has one hotel, Monona County has several campgrounds, and possible Air-BnB’s are located close to the seminar sites. Most of our attendees will take advantage of the free camping at the seminar site.

Saturday’s events are primarily located outside at the seminar site. We start the morning by offering a breakfast, morning yoga, and a bird watching hike. We have three program sessions that run through the day, our day schedule looks like this: Session 1 (8:15AM-10:10AM), Session 2 (10:15AM-12:10PM), Lunch (12:15PM-1:10PM), and Session 3 (1:15PMPM-4PM). Each session will have multiple programs running concurrently in it. After the sessions are finished for the day, we go back to the West Monona High School for a meal, silent auction bidding and closeout, vendors, and presentations finished by a keynote presentation from 7:15-8:15PM. We have children’s programing running from 6-8:20PM.

We then retire to the campground again for the night around 9PM, with more nighttime activities and campfire offered from 9-11PM.

Sunday morning starts the same as Saturday morning with breakfast, morning yoga, and a bird watching hike. We then go into one more program Session from 8:15AM-10:10AM. We finish the day with a raptor program from SOAR from 10:30AM-11:30AM. That will conclude the seminar for the year.

Answers to Common Questions:

  • Attendees are free to retire to their campsites at the seminar campground at any time.

  • Attendees are free to come and go from the seminar at any time.

  • Breakfast will be provided with a minimum suggested donation listed. 

  • Catered meals are available for purchase prior to the seminar for Saturday Lunch and Dinner.

  • Attendees are free to make plans for meals other than the catered options and we may have surplus catered meals available for sale in very limited quantities at the seminar, but no guarantee.

  • Meal options are viewable under the Meal Info tab at the top of the page.

  • The Registration link is available under the Registration tab at the top of the page when registration is open. Registration will be open from May 10th - May 24th for 2024.

  • There are no power hook ups or running water at the outdoor seminar site, but people are free to bring tents, campers, or RVs to sleep in.

  • We provide a barrel of potable drinking water and several porta-johns.

  • While there are no outlets at the seminar, we will try to have a solar charging station available for charging small personal devices.

  • As per IA DNR regulations for IA DNR Wildlife Management Areas: "No dogs are allowed on all state-owned game management areas between March 15 and July 15 of each year, except on designated training areas." 

Recommended Items to Bring:

  • Cash or Checkbook for Silent Auction, Vendor, and Meal purchases and Donations

  • Camp Chairs or other seating (there are some picnic tables at the seminar site but many programs will take place away from camp)

  • Binoculars/Spotting Scopes

  • Cameras and spare batteries

  • Battery Banks for electronic devices

  • Sunscreen and Bug Spray

  • Reusable Dinnerware and Water Bottle

  • Walking Sticks

  • Sun Hats and Rain Jackets

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