Few Iowans today can imagine a time when tall-grass prairie stretched across the state from the banks of the Mississippi to the edges of the Missouri River. Since the first settlers arrived in 1833, Iowa prairie has been plowed up for agriculture and development. Few intact areas of prairie were left by the early 1900s.
Some Iowans, however, are not giving up on the prairie and their natural heritage.
The League’s Worth County Chapter started several prairie restoration projects over the past few years. In fact, the chapter has dedicated much of its 18-acre property to conservation efforts: 13 acres for prairie plantings, 3 acres for planting native trees and shrubs, and a new riparian buffer along Elk Creek. “You’ve got to preserve what you have left,” says Don Anderson, former Worth County Chapter president.
The chapter also collaborated with the Federated Garden Clubs to organize an Operation Wildflower Workshop, which attracted participants from across Iowa and neighboring states. The event – led by Angie Wilkins, a Federated Garden Clubs member and current Worth County Chapter secretary – included discussions with area experts on gardening to attract native wildlife, birding fundamentals, and starting and maintaining an area of native prairie. “Everyone who came enjoyed the day and made friends from all over the state,” says Wilkins. “They were able to enjoy the natural state of birds and the native flowers.” Workshop participants were treated to a humorist who entertained with his stories about being a columnist and nature lover. The day wrapped up with an afternoon of hands-on workshops, such as creating floral arrangements and hand-tying wildflower bouquets
“We are fortunate that we have a prairie,” Anderson says. “Over the years, we’ve learned what it is – how valuable it is.”