Lessons Learned From Prairie Restoration at Hitchcock Nature Center

Lessons Learned From Prairie Restoration at Hitchcock Nature Center

Pottawattamie County Conservation is excited to host Keith Summerville, Levitt Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science and Deputy Provost at Drake University as our next guest for our 2017 Speaker Series. Get to know this multi-talented speaker and prepare for his upcoming presentation, “Lessons Learned from Prairie Restoration” coming up September 9th at 4:00 p.m. This event is free with paid park admission & will be held at the Loess Hills Lodge. Click here for more information. 
Launched this summer, the 2017 Speaker Series is a new programming series designed for teens and adults to provide them with an opportunity to learn from and interact with various authorities in the fields of conservation and environmental science. Programs are free with paid park admission and will be held at Hitchcock Nature Center on the second Saturday of the month, May through October. Each program will begin at 4:00 p.m. and will last approximately 1 hour. After the presentation attendees may enjoy conversation with the presenter, a book signing, and refreshments provided by local vendors. Space is limited at these events and refreshments are served so we ask that you pre-register and reserve your spot in advance. Click here to register online in minutes or give us a call at 712-328-5834.
In preparation for our September 9th event, Pottawattamie County Conservation’s Kristen Bieret sat down with Keith to discuss his background, inspiration, and his upcoming talk at Hitchcock Nature Center.

L0R2 13 year old maleTell me a little about your background. 

I am currently Levitt Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science and Deputy Provost at Drake University.  I received my Ph.D in Zoology from Miami (Ohio) in 2002.  I teach classes ranging from conservation biology to field Mammalogy to Entomology, and I am most happy working outdoors, particularly in the forests and prairies of the Midwest. 

What sparked your interest in the natural world?

I’ve always been eager to explore the outdoors, and I have fond memories of growing up surrounded by the forests and lakes of NE Ohio.  A year-long research position with the Nature Conservancy in Michigan really solidified by commitment to conservation – I was essentially working to inventory all of the rare animals across both the upper and lower Peninsulas.  I’ve been a committed ecologist ever since.  

You are presenting at the speaker series coming up on September 9th what are some highlights we can expect at you presentation?

I’ll relate many stories of the animals and plants of Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, and along the way, I’ll explain how animal ecology tells us a great deal about how to restore Iowa’s native ecosystems.  Expect stories about birds, ornate box turtles, and my favorite species – butterflies and moths.

Turtle yearlingWhy is conservation of the natural world important to you?

We’re lost if we commit our futures to monocultures, weeds, and that subset of species that seems to take all the punishment we dish out without blinking.  The natural world is what sustains us as a species, no matter how technologically advanced we think we are.

You are a professor at Drake University what is your favorite part about being a teacher?

Taking students into the field to implement the science of restoration.  The process of taking information and doing something useful with it is very empowering.

One final note if you’d like to share any suggested books or publications if the participants are interested in learning more prior to the event in August?

The Tallgrass Prairie Restoration Handbook is always a great read.  I use it in a wide range of my classes.
* All Photos Courtesy of Keith Summerville