Hitchcock Oak Inventory Project - September Training Session

Hitchcock Nature Center, Pottawattamie County

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Throughout our species’ history, humans have sought our planet’s open-canopy and savanna woodland systems for resource and protection. Today, some of those same savannas, and the oaks that comprise them still remain, though many are now gone. Nevertheless, the sprawling and mighty oak remains an icon of the American Midwest.  However, a new, swift, and little understood disease has recently emerged in our area with the potential to eliminate one of our America’s most iconic trees from the Midwestern landscape. Through a series of trainings, and the generosity of volunteers with their time, Pottawattamie County Conservation is looking to shed a little light on the oaks’ newest threat.

Please join us on Saturday, September 22nd for the third of three training sessions aimed at training those interested in joining this unique volunteer program. Training Session 3 will be held from 12:00 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 22nd and will cover the topics of preparing oak trees for prescribed fire as well as identifying and harvesting viable acorns and proper planting techniques.  Portions of this training will occur out-of-doors and off-trail, so please dress accordingly.

Pottawattamie County Conservation’s Hitchcock Oak Inventory Project is a truly original volunteer-led citizen science effort the likes of which has never been seen in the Midwest. The project aims to support researchers’ efforts to better understand the dramatic decline and mortality of oaks observed throughout our region. In addition, the project would help ensure that current and future generations of oaks remain part of the Hitchcock Nature Center landscape through volunteer-led protection and planting.

During the spring and summer, and while utilizing a specially designed smartphone app, trained volunteers will walk the wilds of the Hitchcock Nature Center documenting the health and condition of bur and red oak trees in the park.  In the fall, volunteers will ​be trained in what it takes to prepare oaks for annual prescribed fire, how to select viable acorns, and where and when to plant them.  Training dates and their topics are listed below.

Session 1: March 24th – Introduction to the Project and Field Data Collection App, Oak Ecology, and Oak Fire Wounds

Session 2: June 23rd – Understanding and Identifying the Symptoms of Oak Decline in Our Region, Review of the Smartphone Data Collection App

Session 3: September 22nd – Preparing Oaks for Fire, Oak/Acorn Propagation and Planting

While the project will benefit most from dedicated participants, project volunteers are not required to attend all three sessions, and may attend any that they’d like. Hitchcock Oak Inventory Project participants would be enrolled as official Hitchcock Nature Center volunteers, and would receive project-specific training and support, in addition to our regular volunteer incentives.

Participants should note: The Hitchcock Oak Inventory Project will occur Hitchcock Nature Center, located on the western edge of Iowa’s Loess Hills, and will require pedestrian travel over difficult terrain. Accordingly, the project may be challenging for young children and those with restricted mobility.

Those interested in supporting the project should register for trainings online.  For additional questions not answered online, inquiring parties should call 712-328-5831.  

The Hitchcock Oak Inventory Project is proudly funded by the Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP CEP). Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP): Invest in Iowa, our outdoors, our heritage, our people. REAP is supported by the state of Iowa, providing funding to public and private partners for natural and cultural resources projects, including water quality, wildlife habitat, soil conservation, parks, trails, historic preservation and more.

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Hitchcock Oak Inventory Project - September Training Session


Saturday, September 22, 2018
12:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Hitchcock Nature Center
27792 Ski Hill Loop
Honey Creek, IA 51542
Jeff Franco jeff.franco@pottcounty-ia.gov
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