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Engaging Our Natural Awareness Workshop: A Model for Education


This page includes details on a past event. For a current list of upcoming Pottawattamie Conservation events, please visit our calendar.
Monday, April 24, 2023 to Wednesday, April 26, 2023
9:00am to 4:30pm Add to Calendar

Hitchcock Nature Center
27792 Ski Hill Loop
Honey Creek, Iowa 51542



The Environmental Education team at Pottawattamie Conservation is bringing nationally recognized instructor and naturalist, Dave “Muskrat” Muska, to Iowa for a spring environmental educator professional development training workshop!

In this experiential training, you will learn skills and techniques to further your ability to inspire and engage participants of all ages with the natural world. These are tools and techniques that Dave has personally gathered over the course of his career as a naturalist, educator, and program director. Many of these tools are driven by research in human psychology, biology, elementary education, and anthropology. These are tools that you will use on a daily basis in schools, speaking engagements, public events, special courses, and guided trips that span age ranges from preschool to mature adult elders.

This training will include presentations on education and given subject matter as well as lessons and activities that will fully immerse participants. These experiential components are integral to the training as we are able to ‘pull back the curtain’ to discuss and deconstruct the learning/teaching process and participant experiences.


Topics covered include the following:

Teaching Methods

- Core Routines

- Models of Place-Based Education

- Effective methods for engaging participants

The Art of Mindfulness

- Incorporating mindfulness into programs & developing practice

The Art of Storytelling

- Techniques of selecting/creating, telling, and inspiring with stories

The Art of Observation

-Nature Journaling

-Wildlife Tracking

Lesson Planning

- Creating lessons to engage participants in a wide range of subjects

- Tools for scaling lessons and activities to meet age ranges and abilities

Fire: A Tool for Teaching

- Fire Safety & Teaching Protocol

- Working with Fire

- Friction Fire

- Match Fires

Carving: Long Running Projects and Focus

- Knife Safety & Teaching Protocol

- Carving projects for all ages

Mycology for All Ages

- Mushroom Safety & Teaching Protocol

- Ecological principles, Identification, and biological diversity


Facilitator: Dave 'Muskrat' Muska is a naturalist and educator with the North Branch Nature Center as well as the founder of Ondatra Adventures, a business devoted to providing meaningful connections to the natural world through Guided Excursions, Naturalist Study, and Wilderness Living Skills.

Dave also serves on the leadership council of the State of Vermont Fungal Scientific Advisory Group (FSAG). The Fungal SAG is responsible for elevating fungi and increasing the state’s understanding of fungal communities, diversity, rarity, sensitivities, and their impact on greater ecosystems.

Dave studied Environmental Biology at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY where he focused much of his efforts & attention on Mycology/ Mycorrhizal Ecology. He is a wildlife tracker, guide, musician, wild crafter, and forager of wild foods including wild mushrooms for both food & medicine.

Dave Muska


Lodging: Free tent camping is available for registrants on-site. Several primitive cabins are also available to rent: please see the Hitchcock Nature Center page on our website,, for more information. Additional lodging options are available in nearby Council Bluffs, IA, and Missouri Valley, IA.


For more information: Email or call 712-242-1189. 


Cancellation Policy

Registrants may cancel their reservation for a 50% refund up to 30 days prior to the program date by calling 712-545-3283 and speaking with staff directly. Cancellations received less than 30 days in advance of the event will not be refunded. Fees for programs cancelled by Pottawattamie Conservation due to weather or other circumstances will be fully refunded.

2023 programming is sponsored by the Pottawattamie Conservation Foundation.

The Pottawattamie Conservation does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or other legally protected status in its employment, programs or activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Human Resource Director 227 South 6th Street, Council Bluffs, IA 51501.

Map to Engaging Our Natural Awareness Workshop: A Model for Education

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