COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: Hurstville Interpretive Center offers an educational experience to travelers

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The Hurstville Interpretive Center in Maquoketa offers visitors  a peak back in the history of Iowa’s landscape.

According to Executive Director of Jackson County Conservation Daryl Parker, the center is all about studying history.

“It’s really more of a historical perspective on what Iowa looked like historically before agriculture dominated our landscape, so we talk about tall grass prairie, and how much of Iowa is tall grass prairie, and how important wetlands were. We sit on a 70 acre complex that is both wetland and prairie restoration, so a big thing we’re interpreting is the benefits of what wetland cells can do, and what benefit wetlands are to our environment, and also native prairie.”

Built in 2004, the Hurstville Interpretive Center has since expanded and collected new attractions to bring in visitors.

Parker says, “The dioramas are here, we interpret wetlands, we interpret prairies, we interpret the whole Hurstville lime kilns business, the company town, the railroad model, right now we have the turtle display. So a little bit of everything,”

 And the center continues to bring in new exhibits for visitors to explore.

 According to Parker, “We’re always trying to do something different. That’s kind of key, to bring the visitor back. You come once, we want you to visit several times. We’re always adding more exhibits and traveling exhibits. We work with other partners throughout Iowa, different nature centers, other education centers, to maybe pick up some stuff that they have had on display and want to move around.”

The center also has plenty to see on the grounds as well.

When speaking about what the grounds mean to those visiting the center, Parker said, “The idea here is education on the inside, experience on the outside. That’s really what we want to do. We can teach you all we can teach you on the inside, but get outside and actually experience it. We have a little wading pond on the outside, where  we encourage kids to actually get out, we have nets available, and boots available, we want kids to get out, get their feet wet, and walk in the water and see what you can find with your little net.”

It also gives visitors a chance to unplug.    

Parker says, “Yep, that’s the key, get off the device and experience some of our natural world, because it’s pretty important stuff.”
 

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