I don’t know about you, but there is something very refreshing for me at the start of the year.  One of my favorite parts of being involved in the world of county conservation is the annual trip to Waterloo, Iowa for the Winterfest Conference.  This is sponsored by the Iowa Association of County Conservation Boards and involves people from all jobs from all counties around the state.  Park Managers, Rangers, Biologists, Naturalists, Directors, Interns, Natural Resource Specialists, Roadside Crew members… you name it, they are there.  It’s our community and it’s so helpful to sneak away to the frozen north to swap stories and ideas and catch up and head back to our individual counties refreshed and invigorated to take on the new year.

This year, Steve, Terry and I attended the conference.  There were some great sessions (one by Winterset’s own Alan Feirer) about rivers, behaviors of a cohesive team, the at-risk status of our turtle population, monarch migration and preservation, legislative updates, how to put a disc golf course in your parks, food plots, beneficial insects, chainsaw safety, investing in your future and so much more.  It’s an opportunity to learn, ask questions and get inspired- or re-inspired.  And it’s a chance to see old friends, former bosses and those conservation employees who experience life in other parts of our great state. My former college roommate Ben Hoksch was even one of the keynote speakers and played the banjo as he regaled us with tales of his canoe journey down the Mississippi River.

It’s good to get away.  It’s good to take the time for extra training.  It’s good to understand that you do have a group of peers that understand what you are going through and want to help you do your job even better.  And it’s good to see familiar faces.

We had a great time and brought back a lot of new and exciting ideas that we hope to implement in our parks and around our county.  Stay tuned!

Happy Trails!