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Tallgrass Prairie Restoration: Restoring Biodiversity, Mind, Body, and Spirit

The final lecture of the 2021 Shear Colbert Symposium “Tallgrass Prairie Restoration: Restoring Biodiversity, Mind, Body, and Spirit” will be given by Jim Kessler on March 25, 2021, at noon via Zoom. The theme for this year’s Symposium is “Growing the Future.”

Jim Kessler currently teaches Environmental Biology and Introductory Biology at Iowa Valley Community College – Grinnell. Kessler taught Biology at Newton High School from 1972 – 2005. Kessler and his wife Kathy have restored 30 acres to native habitat south of Grinnell. The property includes reconstructed prairie and restored wetlands, stream banks, oak savannas, and oak/hickory woodland. They have donated 27 acres of the restored habitats to the Bur Oak Land Trust in Iowa City for perpetual preservation and management. Kessler has shared presentations and workshops almost 100 times during the last 10 years about the importance of native plantings to pollinators, songbirds, other wildlife, and people. He has spoken at Iowa State University, Blank Park Zoo, the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar, the Bur Oak Land Trust’s Prairie Preview in Iowa City, University of Iowa, University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the Lynn County Garden Fair, the Siouxland Garden Show and too many communities, conservation, environmental, and school groups in Iowa and other states including South Dakota, Illinois, and California.

This lecture will explain how to prepare the soil before planting; explore prairie seed sources and mixes; describe a variety of planting methods; compare the results of late fall, winter, and spring plantings; explain how to manage the prairie planting for success including prescribed fire and weed control. Kessler will show pictures of the amazing diversity of pollinators, songbirds, and other wildlife that move into quality prairie habitats. During the lecture, he will describe how prairie reconstruction and prairie wetland restoration have positively impacted the emotional, physical, and spiritual health of his family. Kessler says that one doesn’t need a lot of land for prairie restoration, a yard or garden will do. He will touch on how to do this as well. Detailed materials describing prairie reconstruction and restoration techniques will be made available to participants.

The Shear Colbert Symposium lecture series was organized in 1984 by the late Marshalltown Community College history professor Dr. Tom Colbert with memorial funds for his predecessor, George Shear. All the lectures will be available via Zoom at or by phone:  312-626-6799 (Meeting ID: 997 7951 3980). Contact Professor P.J. Colbert at 641-844-5777 if you have questions about the Symposium.

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