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Volunteer Spotlight: Supporting Raptor Conservation with Ann

Join us as we shine a light on Pottawattamie Conservation volunteers to thank them for their time and talents and recognize the difference they make in our community. Our volunteers ROCK!

Below, take a moment to meet Pottawattamie Conservation volunteer, Ann:

Ann, a HawkWatch volunteer at Hitchcock Nature Center.

How long Ann has volunteered with us:

Ann has been a part of our HawkWatch team since 2017. This avid group of birders comes together every fall season to monitor the fall migration of raptors including the Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, or Sharp-shinned Hawk as they head south for winter. Hitchcock Nature Center is an optimal location to view this annual migration as birds take advantage of the westerly winds and vortex-like thermals (updrafts that pull birds up into the sky without them needing to exude much energy) that form in this area of the Missouri River Valley.
Each hour of the count, volunteers like Ann record migrating raptors as well as the temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, wind direction, visibility, and level of flight.  All of this data is sent on to HMANA, the Hawkwatch Migration Association of North America, which tabulates data from more than 200 North American HawkWatch sites. Hitchcock is one of only a handful in the Midwest.  

Why she volunteers: 

“I especially enjoy the camaraderie of hawkwatching with others who know so much more than I do and are so willing to share their knowledge.  It is very important environmentally to help with this citizen science project so that scientists can determine what is impacting behaviors, declines in numbers, and conservation of raptors throughout our continent.”


What Ann’s learned while volunteering:

 A lot! But here are her top three takeaways so far:

  1. Approximately 14 species of raptors migrate along the Missouri River Valley every year.
  2. Raptor species tend to migrate in a specific order as weather changes throughout the fall season (Generally Broad-winged Hawks and Kestrels head south first while Red-tailed Hawks and Bald Eagles tend to bring up the rear).
  3. How to dress warmly on a 60-foot tower in December with wind gusts of 40 mph and temperatures below freezing.


Something interesting about Ann:

Ann is a wild child at heart, and as a retired hospice nurse you know she has a big heart, too. As a child she loved to climb trees and watch birds, and as a young adult she spent many of her days scuba diving—it’s no wonder she gets a kick out of spending her time atop a windy tower each year from September to December. Thank you, Ann!

Volunteers like Ann make a huge difference for our small organization by keeping our parks beautiful, providing a great experience for visitors, and supporting local conservation efforts that protect wildlife, pollinators, and us humans, too! Their dedication, along with all of our other amazing volunteers, allows us to reach more people about the importance of natural spaces and be good stewards of the land. We truly couldn't do it without our passionate volunteers and can't thank them enough for everything they do to support conservation work.


Explore Volunteer Opportunities & Apply Today

We are always looking for new faces to help us keep Pottawattamie Conservation parks beautiful and educate the public. Whether you prefer outdoors or indoors, our volunteer opportunities provide impactful ways for you to make a difference, connect with nature and support our community.

Regular volunteers have the option of setting their own schedule and are rewarded with educational opportunities and other benefits. Volunteers also receive an annual park permit and a discount on gift shop merchandise as a thank-you for their efforts.

For more information on volunteer opportunities or to schedule a private volunteer project please contact Dana Kruse, Volunteer and Facilities Coordinator at (712) 545-3283 or email him at



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Volunteer Spotlight: Monte Monitors Migration & More (12/28/2022)
by Dana Kruse, Volunteer & Facilities Coordinator

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Volunteer Spotlight: Monte Monitors Migration & More (12/28/2022)
by Dana Kruse, Volunteer & Facilities Coordinator

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