Annual Events

Hardin County Conservation Board hosts and partners in many public events each year. Listed below are a few:

Calkins Nature Area’s Archaeology Day

On February 22, 2020, Calkins Nature Area staff hosted their fist ever Archaeology Day. Throughout the day, Cherie Haury-Artz and Veronica Mraz, professionals from the Iowa Office of State Archaeology, were present to carefully examine and identify artifacts from collectors drawn to the event from all across the state. Matt Graesch of the Iowa DNR was also on site to demonstrate the skillful techniques of flint knapping, or primitive stone tool making. Nature center staff worked alongside Jeff Ulch, guiding tours of his 10,000 plus treasured artifacts known as the "Ulch Collection". Out in the Calkins’ prairie were elk, caribou and black bear targets spread out for visitors to try their hand at the Native American hunting technique of atlatl spear throwing. Mykel Gherke was another volunteer; an avid outdoorsman, Mykel contributed his time to teaching the public all about primitive trapping and fire making technique. All in all, the event was a wildly popular success. With an estimated between 300-400 guests, a demand for a second Archaeology Day will be likely! 

Spring Wildflower Walk

Every spring, Calkins Nature Area's Interpretive staff is glad to invite the public out to the nature center to enjoy a guided wildflower hike. The day is spent hiking the 76 acres of Calkins Nature Area grounds, scouting wildflowers, capturing breathtaking photos, and enjoying every serene second of nature's captivating spring beauty. We hope that you can spring out to see us for our next and join us on our next annual Spring Wildflower Walk!


Friends who ventured on one of our 2019 float tours on the Iowa River in Hardin County

fall kayak trip

Spring and Fall River Floats

Hardin County Conservation staff organizes two public kayak floats each year. The trips are come one, come all with no capacity limitations. Canoes or kayaks will be provided on a first come, first serve basis. Participants who own or have access to their own kayaks are encouraged to bring them, this is so the HCCB can provide for those without. We are limited to the number of canoes and kayaks that we can provide, our boats are delegated on a first come, first serve basis. The float trips are always scenic and participants always leave pleased with a little touch of nature therapy! To venture on your own river journey, check out our list of Hardin County's water trails!

A group of young and hard working volunteers assisting Hardin County Conservation staff with the removal of invasive honey suckle on Earth Day, 2014

earth day

Earth Day Volunteers

Every year on April 22, Hardin County Conservation staff welcomes the partnership and collaboration with community volunteers to celebrate Earth Day. What better way to spend our annual earth celebration day than being green minded? Pay attention to our calendar of events for our update on Earth Day volunteer projects as we reach closer to April of 2020!

Learn how to make ties just by attending our fly fishing workshops!

fly tying

Fly Tying

Calkins Interpretive Assistant, Davis Horton, presents a fly tying tutorial class at Calkins Nature Area. Open to the public, individuals are welcome to join in on an educational and crafty experience, creating their own fly fishing lures. A small fee applies to cover that charge of materials for this event.

Found on our 2018 Summer Night Hike through the Calkins Nature Area timber, a Grey Tree Frog which is native to Iowa. One of the many noises we can hear in Iowa woods.

night hike frog

Summer Night Hike

During the summer in Hardin County, the conservation staff invites the public to join us at Calkins Nature Area for the annual night hike. The hike includes various family-friendly activities and stops set up in the moonlit woodland bottoms of the Iowa River on the Calkins Nature Area grounds. Join us as we quietly listen to the sounds of the night such as various owls, frogs, howls and insects that call our local forests home. This event is perfect for families and friends of all ages. 

Interpretive Program Assistant, Davis, guides young explorers on the 2019 Summer Night Hike

night hike

Halloween Hike

Join us for a night of spooky adventures in October this year! The night is full of costumes, candy, games, and a hay ride! Children and parents are welcome to join in the fun with face-painting, scary stories, creepy critters and Halloween crafts. The event is free to attend and great for families. Stay posted when we reach that time of year by connecting with our great Calkins Nature Area Facebook page, and by keeping up on our events calendar on the website home page.

The front entryway of Calkins Nature Area decorated for the 2019 annual Halloween Hike

Calkins Halloween

One of Calkins Nature Area's many Christmas trees, 2019

christmas at calkins

Christmas at Calkins

December brings the Christmas cheer! Join us next December for the annual Christmas at Calkins holiday event. People of all ages are welcome to attend and join in on the holiday fun. This free event will include games, crafts, snacks and a visit from Santa himself! Crafts include nature ornament making, cookie decorating, kids finger-painting, reindeer food making, and outdoor games! For more information, please stay tuned to the calendar of events on the Things to Do page!

Calkins Christmas participants decorating holiday cookies, 2019

calkins christmas

Aerial Greenbelt Drone Footage Contest:

Aerial Greenbelt Logo

The Hardin County Conservation Board along with the Aerial Greenbelt Drone Contest Organizers publish the rules and details of this special event annually. Avid RC aviators can take advantage of their talent by capturing scenic footage of the Iowa River Greenbelt that flows through Hardin County. For information, click: 2020 Aerial Greenbelt Drone Footage Contest and Deadline

Please keep an eye on our Hardin County Conservation Calendar to keep track of all upcoming events, we would love to have you join us!