Healthy Polk 2020

Explore the Outdoors

This podcast was produced by Polk County Conservation and funded by Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education program or REAP-CEP.

Hi, my name is Heidi Anderson. I am a naturalist with Polk County Conservation. Did you know Iowa has many great places to fish, hunt, hike, camp, and enjoy the outdoors? Each Iowa County has a conservation board who’s mission is to acquire, develop, and maintain areas devoted to conservation and public recreation on a local level.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has the same mission but at the state level. The best thing is you don’t have to leave the state to find awesome places to recreate. Polk County Conservation alone manages 16 areas totally over 11,000 acres.

It is a beautiful spring day and I’m fishing with my friend Lauren at Jester Park in northwestern Polk County. I always try to emphasize the importance of being a good character in the outdoors.

Lauren speaks: “Hey I know what it means to be a good character, it means to be trustworthy.”

Yes, that’s right. Have the courage to lead by example and do the right thing in taking care of the environment. Whatever we discover today, we will leave it here for others to find in the future.

Lauren Speaks: “So we should respect nature.”

That’s right Lauren. Be considerate of the beauty of the outdoors. Don’t break off tree limbs, pick wildflowers, or chop down live trees. (chopping tree sound). If every visitor picked a flower or collected a rock, then those who follow would not be able to enjoy them. However you can collect nuts, fungus, and berries.

Lauren Speaks: “Hey, I found some fishing line next to the water.”

This is an example of litter. Do you think this harms wildlife in any way?

Lauren Speaks: “I guess the fishing line could get wrapped around a ducks leg?”

Yes it could. Ducks and geese can be hurt by fishing line left on shore. Pack it in, pack it out is a good rule to remember. Take responsibility – Leave nature better than when you found it. Pick up trash – yours and others.

Something else to remember is to be fair. Follow the conservation rules at the park or natural area you are visiting so all people can have a positive experience. Follow the park hours. Be considerate of other park users. Give other anglers some space and don’t fish right next to them, and turn down your volume, keep your pet on a leash, and pick-up after your pet.

Lauren Speaks: “I caught something!”

Good! Let’s reel it in. It looks like Lauren caught a bluegill. Now what should we do with it?

Lauren Speaks: “Take it off the hook and gently return it back to the water.”

Right! If you are not going to clean and eat the fish, it should be returned quickly back to the water. Nice job Lauren! That’s showing care. Take time to enjoy the natural world and understand the connections of life on Earth.

Lauren, what are some other things we can do to help the environment?

Lauren Speaks: “How about planting a tree or recycling?”

Perfect! Those are great ideas! When you help the environment and make the world a better place you are being a good citizen.

Polk County Conservation has something for everyone. Plan a family picnic, golf 18 holes on a championship course, canoe down the river, reel in a trophy fish, ride horseback along Saylorville Lake, utilize public hunting areas, or bike on a multi-use trail. To find a county park in your area go to

This podcast was funded by REAP-CEP which is a program the State of Iowa invests in to enhance and protect the state's natural and cultural resources. REAP provides money for projects through state agency budgets or in the form of grants. For more information about REAP, visit

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