Women’s Suffrage History Along the Lincoln Highway in Iowa

Women’s Suffrage History Along the Lincoln Highway in Iowa

As you travel along the Lincoln Highway National Heritage Byway you’ll find many cultural and historic points of interest — including a retracing of footsteps taken by many responsible for pioneering women’s suffrage in Iowa. This March, we commemorate Iowa History and Women’s History month, let’s take a look at a couple of related stories.

A historic milestone during the decades-long fight to win the right to vote for women in the United States took place in the Lincoln Highway community of Boone, Iowa over 100 years ago. At 11:45 a.m. on the morning of October 29, 1908, more than one hundred women gathered at the corner of 7th and Carroll, hoisted their banners, and began to march towards downtown in support of women’s suffrage.

Championing the ensuing parade was a car transporting the then National Women Suffrage Association President Dr. Anna Howard Shaw.

Women's Suffrage March in Boone, Iowa
Carrie Chapman Catt and Anna Howard Shaw in 1917

Carrie Chapman Catt and Anna Howard Shaw in 1917.

When the marchers reached the intersection of 8th and Story, the crowd paused to allow Shaw to speak. The Woman’s Standard newspaper reported that Shaw “…held the breathless attention of her hearers, wit, humor, pathos, sentiment and clear, hard logic from one to the other she passed, naturally, entirely without self-consciousness, with the greatest sincerity of manner and at time with much dramatic fire.”

Women's Suffrage Monument in Boone Iowa

At the site today you’ll find a monument in honor of that 1908 parade that was organized by Boone Equality Club President Rowena Edson Stevens and former Iowa Equal Suffrage President Rev. Eleanor Elizabeth Gordon. Be sure to stop at this location, stand in these women’s footsteps, imagine, be inspired, and immerse yourself in their bravery and sacrifice.

At the top of Oakland Avenue and Lafayette along the Byway corridor in Council Bluffs, you’ll find Fairview Cemetery, the resting place of Mormon pioneers, Mrs. Caroline Pace who rode the first locomotive to come to Council Bluffs, and Amelia Jenks Bloomer a social reformer, temperance activist, suffragist and one-time editor of The Lilly, the first newspaper by and for women, which became a model for women’s suffrage publications thereafter.

The Bloomer family settled in Council Bluffs in 1855 where Amelia continued her activism and was Iowa’s first resident to speak publicly for women’s suffrage. She started the Soldiers’ Aid Society of Council Bluffs to assist Union soldiers and served as president of the Iowa Suffrage Association from 1871-1873.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer

Though she became the namesake, the late Victorian era fashion of “Bloomers” inspired by Turkish pantaloons did not begin with Amelia, but in the Lilly, she advocated for their wearingSoon they became a symbol of the women’s rights movement, freedom, and feminist reform.

The next time you’re traveling the western edge of the Lincoln Highway in Iowa be sure to visit Council Buff’s Fairview Cemetery and pay respect to the American women’s movement pioneer Amelia Jenks Bloomer.

Prairie Rivers Staffer Shellie Orngard Named to Change for Climate Cohort

Prairie Rivers Staffer Shellie Orngard Named to Change for Climate Cohort

The Iowa Conservation Education Coalition has created a select group of community environmental leaders to be part of a Change for Climate Cohort who will “receive training, professional mentoring and support, and funding to define and implement community projects that address real problems faced by Iowans due to climate change”.

Environmental leaders from across Iowa have recently been named to the cohort including Prairie Rivers of Iowa Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway Coordinator Shellie Orngard.

Shellie Orngard
Dr. Jean Eells leading a PRI visioning retreat in 2019.

Dr. Jean Eells is seen here leading a visioning session for Prairie Rivers staff and board of directors back in 2019.

Thanks to Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP-CEP) funding along with coaching support from the E Resources Group’s Dr. Jean Eells, a frequent Prairie Rivers of Iowa collaborator, the cohort will create partnership and spearhead project that will address climate change issues based on what is best for their local communities. Additional training sessions will Community-Based Social Marketing and Resiliency and Adaptation to Climate Change workshops. The cohort is slated to begin sharing their projects with their communities in early 2023.

In addition to Prairie Rivers’ Orngard, other new members to the cohort include Northeast Iowa Peace & Justice Center’s Sharlene Bohr, Erica Carns of the Blank Park Zoo, City of Dubuque Sustainability Office/Green Iowa Americorps’ Sam Harris, and Story County Conservation Naturalist Beth Waage.

Thank You, David Stein!

Thank You, David Stein!

Prairie Rivers of Iowa's David Stein talks about native plants, pollinator and wildlife restoration during a Prairie Rivers of Iowa field day in 2019.

Last month marked the departure of our pollinator and native plant expert David Stein as he heads back to work in his home state, our neighbors to the north, Minnesota. We are missing his passion and work ethic, but our Watersheds and Wildlife program continues as always and efforts are well underway to find his replacement.

David contributed to a large part of Prairie Rivers of Iowa’s continued efforts to impact public awareness and implementation of conservation practices to create native plant, pollinator and wildlife habitat to help improve soil and water quality while protecting the endangered rusty patched bumble bee and other species of greatest conservation need in Iowa. He was instrumental in creating a native seed bank and the development of many acres of habitat.

I recently visited with David as he reflected upon his work here at Prairie Rivers and his hopes for the future state of native habitat and pollinators in Iowa.

What do you feel was your biggest accomplishment while working at PRI?
There are a lot! I think both completing the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant and setting the stage for PRI’s next series of habitat/conservation projects was probably the biggest accomplishment during my time here. On top of that, raising awareness of pollinator issues and educating interested landowners on how to install habitat was also a major highlight of my work. Re-discovering the rusty patched bumble bee, and mapping out new sightings was definitely a high point for me too.

How do you feel the health of native habitat and pollinators is currently in Iowa? What progress has been made? Where do we need to go from here?
 We have a long way to go, but I think we’re in a better place than we were a few years ago.  Our outreach and education efforts, especially our work with counties, cities and landowners have definitely gotten the ball rolling, but a more hands-on-deck is always better. A coordinated conservation and restoration effort between non-profits, municipalities, farmers, landowners, homeowners, businesses, and interested individuals is really the best and only way forward to reverse pollinator and habitat decline.

What’s next for you?
Next, I’ll be working up at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in St. Paul. I’ll be able to be involved in habitat projects all throughout the state and be able to meet with a bunch of different stakeholders that are doing some amazing restoration work.

How has working at PRI enriched your professional life?
Working here has definitely enriched my professional life. I’ve been able to improve my own knowledge and passion regarding pollinator and wildlife conservation and directly apply it in real-time. I’ve also been able to connect and network with so many amazing stakeholders and partners from a variety of backgrounds. I know that I’ll be able to use these skills and lessons throughout my professional life moving forward.

Tall Grass Prairie Restoration Follow Up

Tall Grass Prairie Restoration Follow Up

Chris Taliga at Wild and Scenic Film Festival Presented by Prairie Rivers of Iowa

NRCS PLANTS Data Team Plant Ecologist Chris Taliga, a featured presenter at our Wild and Scenic Film Festival, shared with the audience a little about the restoration of prairie on her family’s farm. I recently followed up with Chris to learn more about the restoration and what best practices she suggests for those wanting to get started with a similar project of their own!

PRI: Can you summarize what efforts you and your family have taken to restore your 160 acres of Iowa land into a prairie?

Chris: We bought this farm 22 years ago seeking to restore tall grass prairie and to develop a conservation approach that is in harmony with life on the farm and the environment.

We began by bringing back fire on the parts of the farm that were pasture (roughly half of the land area) in an effort to see if we could find remnant native vegetation. We also immediately seeded down eroded waterways, contour buffer strips and filter strips (to a mixture of native prairie species) on the parts of the farm that were leased for farming.

We also thoroughly inventoried the vegetation. We knew early on that conserving our soil and water resources and enhancing the environment for all life on the farm were top priorities for us which is why we committed to using organic practices in our restoration efforts. We have been managing this farm organically for the past twenty years and were first certified organic in 2006. We have felt all along that this approach would help us protect our natural resources.

Taliga Family Farm Prairie Restoration

After our farming lease expired we enrolled roughly 1/3 of the farm into the Conservation Reserve Program and have slowly added additional acreage into the Conservation Reserve Program over the years.

Along with prescribed fire we also mowed, chopped, pulled, and sawed non-native invasive species. We collected seed, purchased seed, and inter-seeded areas after our prescribed fires. Most seeding was done by broadcasting and some of the seeding we hired out with a no-till drill. In areas we did not seed, we recognized native grass like (graminoid) species, mostly native upland sedges, which had persisted in our pasture in a few areas less than 0.1 acres in size with some remnant flowers such as pale purple coneflower but very little other native vegetation.

Over the years we have continued to burn and seed and have been rewarded with large stands of native tall grass prairie vegetation throughout the farm.  We now collect seed and sell our certified organic prairie seed geared mainly to the home landscape as we deal in very small quantities.  There is always more work on the farm, besides seed collection we are also working on addressing some issues along the banks of two of the streams traversing our farm.

PRI: How long have you been at it?
Chris: Since 1999.

PRI: What three best practices would you recommend to others wanting to get started with a similar prairie restoration on their land?
Chris: Identify and tackle the most critical areas first, either areas you need to seed down to address soil erosion or a weed issue, this allows you to start small and learn from your experience.

Persistence & patience, native vegetation takes time, be sure you stay on top of the mowing and weed care a native seeding requires. Establishing a native plant community also requires patience as you observe the plant community developing over time.

Continue the learning process by monitoring your work, talking to others doing similar work, develop a support community, and trusting your instincts

PRI: What steps have you taken or hope to take to put into practice perennial crop alternatives to your acreage?
Chris: We have explored a number of options over the years and currently certified organic hay and native seed are our main perennial crops.

PRI: What improvements/benefits have you seen over time because of your efforts?
Chris: We have seen reduction in soil erosion, and multifold increase in native plant biodiversity and increased abundance of wildlife including native grassland birds and pollinators. We also see signs of better water quality in our creeks and ponds.

PRI: Do you have any additional thoughts you would like to share with our readers? 
Chris: Our family has learned so much from our restoration efforts which are ongoing. We express our love for Iowa and its natural resources through our stewardship on our farm. It is wonderful to see our daughter engaged in this landscape ethic which is beyond any of our dreams when we started this endeavor.

Chris Taliga and Family

You can find Chris and Her Family on Etsy @BurtalFarmSeed.

Wild and Scenic Film Fest Presented by Prairie Rivers of Iowa Screening on Friday, October 1

Wild and Scenic Film Fest Presented by Prairie Rivers of Iowa Screening on Friday, October 1

Ames, Iowa — The Ames, Iowa, not-for-profit Prairie Rivers of Iowa is presenting its Second Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival — Where Conservation Gets Inspired. This unique event takes place on Friday, October 1 from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Ames City Auditorium.

Tickets are $20 per person with children under 12 free. Sales are limited so pre-purchase is recommended online here or at the Prairie Rivers of Iowa office located at 2335 230th St., Suite 101, in Ames. Tickets can be purchased at the door the night of the event as available.

Wild and Scenic Film Festival Presented by Prairie Rivers of Iowa

“Many of the festival’s six films take a look at safe and sustainable practices for farming and fishing while addressing soil and water quality challenges,” says Prairie Rivers of Iowa Event Coordinator Lisa Cassady. Anyone who enjoys the outdoors and wants to be proactive towards improving the environment will enjoy attending.

Ecologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service National Plant Data Team, Chris Taliga will share a presentation about her avocation and conservation efforts that have come together during her family’s restoration of 160 acres of Iowa land into a prairie.

The festival’s finale film is the Iowa PBS documentary Iowa Land and Sky: Iowa Cities, Towns and Waterways, which explores how Iowa’s largest cities and smallest towns are often defined by waterways, flooding, and environmental challenges in the 21st century. A special presentation from one of the film’s producers Travis Graven follows.

Light food and drinks by Wheatsfield Co-op will be available for purchase and a silent auction will be held to benefit Iowa’s natural resources. Organizations working to improve Iowa’s environment will be on hand to share information and ideas with attendees.

This event is made possible by the generosity of Gina McAndrews Real Estate Team, Friends of Ada Hayden Heritage Park, City of Ames, Outdoor Alliance of Story County, Alluvial Brewing and Wheatsfield Co-op.

As a bonus, seven days of online streaming following the festival (excluding the special presentations) are included for ticket holders unable to attend in person or for those who are inspired to watch it again and again!

This event is part of the three-day Ames River Town of the Year Celebration starting on Thursday, September 30 with a lecture and book signing by conservationist, CNN’s 2013 Hero of the Year and Living Lands and Water founder Chad Pregracke and then ends with a river and stream cleanup on Saturday, October 2 in Ames.