Julie Stow is Associate Executive Director of the Cedar Rapids Tourism Office with over 30 years experience in the fields of retail, economic development, tourism and hospitality. A native Californian, she found her way to Iowa in her role as Human Resource Director at Nordstrom for the opening of their Cedar Rapids Fulfillment Center. Her enthusiasm for the community led her to the Chamber of Commerce/Economic Alliance where she provided support to local businesses. She now uses her passion for the community to drive economic impact by attracting visitors and events to Cedar Rapids. In her free time, she serves on the Visual Arts Commission for the City of Cedar Rapids and is on the board for The District. She can often be found bringing tour groups out to visit the Nature Center (Julie is on the far left in the photo above with a group of tourism leaders from around the county that she brought to experience ICNC) and showcase all we have to offer. She’s also a regular at our events and programs and is one of the biggest cheerleaders for the Cedar Rapids community. We asked her to share a few thoughts on the Nature Center, particularly from a tourism perspective. Here’s what she had to say:
Why is Indian Creek Nature Center an important part of the community?
The Nature Center offers a range of activities and is available year round! From walking the trails in the spring, to snowshoeing in the winter to a Farm to Table dinner experience under the stars, there are many ways to connect! What a gift to have this beautiful outdoor space in our backyard that is accessible to all.
What do you appreciate about having ICNC as one of your tourism partners?
I love all that ICNC offers our local community and visiting guests. For our out of town guests, it gives them an outdoor experience and place to stretch their legs and enjoy nature. They appreciate the commitment to sustainability efforts and availability of the unique meeting space.
What role can ICNC and all your tourism partners play in making Cedar Rapids a unique, thriving, and inviting destination?
Visitors are looking for unique and interactive experiences. Having the variety that ICNC and our other attractions offer is critical in making Linn County a desirable destination that people want to not only visit for the first time, but also come back to again and again.
What types of comments do you hear from those from outside our area that are coming to visit Cedar Rapids and see ICNC?
Visitors are amazed that there are trails and nature-based experiences so close and accessible from downtown and all areas of the city. I always say that I wish all our residents could hear our visitor comments and see the community’s appeal through their eyes. They are impressed by the variety of experiences, the affordability, and the ability to connect to nature.
Do you have a personal experience at the Nature Center that you’d like to share about?
One of my favorite stories is while hosting a site tour for a group of visitors there was a senior leader with the group who was very quiet and appeared disconnected the whole time. After our tour of Indian Creek Nature Center as we got back in the car, he said ‘Well Julie, THAT was unexpected! When you said nature center, I thought we were going to walk into a building filled with stuffed birds, but THAT was impressive!’