Walking the walk with nature lovers in the Loess Hills

Hitchock Nature Center workshop evokes famed conservationists
Published: Feb. 27, 2022 at 5:29 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - With a springlike week upon us, plenty in the metro are getting outside to spend time in nature.

Nature is where we caught up with Biologist and Ecologist Ron Cisar of Omaha, sharing his love of the natural world.

”You never see it all.” Cisar said. “That’s what’s fun about the natural world, you always find something new. “

Cisar is a retired Assistant Professor Emeritus at Iowa Western Community College and a longtime educator in Omaha Public Schools. As a naturalist regularly speaking to groups and exploring the outdoors, Cisar walks the walk and talks the talk.

”A lot of us, including myself, we head west maybe and go to the Rocky Mountains for a vacation or back east or go the seashore,” Cisar said. “But sometimes you have to be more acquainted with what’s in your own backyard.”

Cisar hosts the monthly “A Land Ethic Workshop” at Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, Iowa. He held a free introductory class this past weekend, and the monthly workshops which run until December require registration and a small fee.

The course allows him to channel fellow naturalists like Aldo Leopold, who pioneered the modern ecology movement.

”Basically what Leopold was trying to teach us is that we were part of a community,” Cisar said. “We weren’t separate from this community of living things, we were part of it, an integral part, and we needed to learn how to live and love on the land.”

The Hitchcock Nature Center is located in Pottawattamie County, Iowa’s Loess Hills. He calls the hills a unique and globally important location, with species, plants and animals only found there.

”It’s kind of a string of pearls,” Cisar said. “Hitchcock Nature Center, and Preservation Canyon north of us and so on, ... are really fabulous places to study the ecology and biology of the hills.”

Cisar is also an accomplished musician, often writing songs reflecting his experiences in nature.

”I remember hearing about a person who said to another guy, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been to Yellowstone once,’” Cisar said. “You know, once is not enough. You can go every day of your life and see something completely brand new. I think that’s true no matter what ecosystem you’re in, whether you’re in prairie or woodlands, around a stream or a lake or a river, there’s always something new.”

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