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Public Programs
Throughout the year, Des Moines County Conservation hosts or helps with numerous public programs. Below is a list of some of those programs.

Ages 2-4 with guardian accompaniment
Time: Designated Saturdays (watch for announcements)
11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Cost: FREE
Location: Starr's Cave Nature Center
Celebrate nature with your child (or niece, nephew, grandchild, etc.)! There will be games, stories, a craft, and outdoor fun. Each PTP has a different topic and some past examples include butterflies, dinosaurs, autumn animals, insects, eggs, and nature in nursery rhymes.

The program begins with a picnic so be sure to bring a sack lunch and drink for you and your tot.

The PTP is held at Starr's Cave Nature Center. Pre-registration is required and accepted as early as two weeks in advance. Space is limited and slots fill quickly so we recommend you register as soon as possible!

Kids Ice Fishing Clinic
Youth under age 18
Date: February
Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Cost: $5
Locatioin: varies 
Learn about ice safety and how to ice fish. Each participant will receive an ice fishing pole to use at the ice fishing clinic and to take home with them afterward. Bait is provided.

This event is for kids under 18 with parent accompaniment. There is a $5 fee to cover the cost of an ice fishing pole and supplies. The Clinic takes place on a Saturday in either January or February from 10 am – 12 pm. Registration is required for this event with a limit of 30 participants.

Eagle Watch
All ages
Date: January
Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Cost: FREE
Location: Port of Burlington 
Learn about bald eagles and then join Des Moines County Conservation in counting them along the Mississippi River. This event begins at 10 am the Port of Burlington Welcome Center for a short bald eagle program and then participants caravan a short distance over to Illinois to Lock and Dam 18 to count bald eagles.

Des Moines County Conservation holds this event annually in conjunction with the Eagle Nature Foundation's Annual Midwinter Bald Eagle Count that has been going on for over 50 years. From Minnesota to Tennessee, volunteers will be counting eagles along the Mississippi and submitting their results to the Eagle Nature Foundation.

The event will last approximately 2 hours but participants may leave the group at anytime. Participants should plan on driving their own vehicles or carpooling with others. Birdwatchers will be given instruction in eagle identification and counting methods used for the survey. No bird counting experience is necessary to attend. Binoculars will be available for loan.

There is no fee or registration required. This program is for all ages. The Eagle Count always takes place the last Saturday in January from 10 am-12 pm. Dress warm as we'll be outside most of the time.

Owl Prowl
All ages
Date: February
Time: 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Cost: FREE
Location: Starr's Cave Nature Center
Enjoy the nighttime while listening for barred owls calling to each other during the mating season. The Prowl is held outside so be sure to dress for the weather.

This program takes place at Starr's Cave Nature Center on a weeknight in February. It is geared for older children and adults. There is no fee for the program.

Earth Day Cleanup
All ages
Date: April
Time: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
Cost: FREE
Location: Port of Burlington 
The Cleanup is organized by a group called "Keep Burlington Beautiful." Every year, hundreds of local volunteers meet at the Port of Burlington to be assigned an area of town to clean up. Volunteers are provided with a map of their area, gloves, and garbage sacks. After a morning of hard work, participants are invited back to the Port for a 'thank you' lunch for all their hard work. There are also giveaways and music entertainment.

The Earth Day cleanup takes place in April around Earth Day on a Saturday from 8 am – 12 pm. There is no preregistration and all ages are invited to attend.

Critter Catch
All ages
Date: May
Time: 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Cost: FREE
Location: Starr's Cave Nature Center
Come catch critters in Flint Creek at Starr's Cave Park & Preserve. If you have your own net, please bring it, otherwise we have some to lend. We'll help I.D. the critters you catch.

This event is for all ages, is free, does not require registration and is always on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend from 10 – 11 am. In the event that Flint Creek is too high, the Critter Catch will be cancelled.

Free Camping Weekend
All ages
Date: One weekend in June
Time: All weekend
Cost: FREE
Location: 4th Pumping Station Campground
Big Hollow Recreation Area
Welter Recreation Area
Camp free in any Des Moines County Conservation park where camping is permitted. All camping fees are waived, even for electric campsites. This weekend coincides with the DNR's annual Free Fishing Weekend. FCW is always the first full weekend in June (Friday, Saturday, & Sunday).

DMCC Fishing Programs
Youth under age 18
Date: May & June
Time: 9:00 am - Noon
Cost: FREE
Location: Big Hollow Recreation Area and Gahn Wildlife Area
Have a fun filled day fishing with DMCC staff equipment will be available for loan.

Nature at Night
All ages
Date: one weeknight in August (watch for announcement)
Time: 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Cost: FREE
Location: Starr's Cave Nature Center
There's plenty to explore out in nature at sunset. Come to Starr's Cave Park and experience nature's nightlife with a Des Moines County Naturalist.

This free event is held on a weeknight in August from 7:30 – 8:30 pm and is open to all ages. No registration required.

Rock Climbing Wall
Ages 8 and up
Date: scheduled afternoons in summer (watch for announcements)
Time: 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Cost: $5
Location: Starr's Cave Nature Center
During the summer there are several afternoons where we open the rock climbing wall to the public (those ages 8 and up) under DMCC staff direction. Participants will learn how to climb a rock wall. Gear is provided.

Those under 18 must have an adult guardian sign a permission waiver. Those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult guardian. No experience is necessary as we'll show you the ropes! Cost is $5 to climb. No preregistration is required.

In addition to the days the climbing wall is open to the public, we are happy to schedule a climbing wall program for private groups of 7 or more. A climbing wall program must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. Fees of $5 per person apply.

Canoe at Big Hollow
Ages 8 and up
Date: June through October
Time: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Cost: Free
Location: Big Hollow Recreation Area
DMCC Environmental Education staff host an aquatic scavenger hunt and lakeside clean up around Big Hollow Lake. We will be paddling in our “NuCanoes” and exploring Big Hollow Lake. A limited number of NuCanoes are available and space is limited. Registration is required for this event.

Other Public Programs & Events

In addition to the events listed above, we regularly offer other special one-time events or programs. The best way to find out about our upcoming events is through our Wild River Ramblings newsletter. You may sign up to receive the newsletter electronically by e-mailing the main office. If you do not readily have internet access, you may request to receive the newsletter through the US Postal Service by contacting our main office at (319) 753-8260.

Creek searching

Frances Owen,

Starr's Cave Nature Center
11627 Starrs Cave Rd.
Burlington, IA 52601

Ph: (319) 753-5808

Requesting an Environmental Education Program for your group
Interested in having the EE staff present an environmental education program to your scout group, church group, day care center, nursing home, home school group, etc? We are happy to do so as long as you have at least five people in your group. Programs are free for in-county groups. For out of county groups we charge $1 per person plus mileage to the out of county location (if applicable). Additional fees may apply for programs such as the climbing wall and cross country skiing. If you cannot come to us, oftentimes we are able to present a program at your location.

Some examples of possible programs include guided hikes in our parks, the climbing wall, creek stomping, and other topics such as mammals, owls, insects, plants, the history of Starr's Cave Park, etc. Just be sure to call us at least two weeks before the date you wish to schedule your program. Please remember that we do fill up quickly so the sooner you schedule your program with us, the better your chances are on getting your preferred date. Please note that we require at least 5 participants to schedule a program.