50th Celebration Event

Thank you for celebrating with ICNC

50 Stories for 50 Years

is presented by New Leader Manufacturing

Celebrating 50 Years

Way back in 2022 the staff at Indian Creek Nature Center ran the numbers and realized that 2023 would be 50 years after our organization was officially founded as a nonprofit. What is the best way to properly celebrate five decades of providing Eastern Iowa with a home for environmental education? Easy. You celebrate with the community!

Each aspect of our 50th Year, including the ‘50 Stories for 50 Years’ series you’re reading now, was intended to bring people together. While the year inevitably led to many opportunities to share our history and muse on our future, it was celebrating the present that brought the Nature Center much joy.

Birthday party

Singing Happy Birthday
Creekside Forest School students led an auditorium packed with close friends in singing Happy Birthday!

The love was certainly felt at the “Birthday Party” we hosted in January. This kick off to the year’s celebrations was expected to be a mild affair with a few dozen close friends. Little did we know that we would have more than a hundred close friends excited to take time away from their Friday morning to show their appreciation for the Nature Center. 

The auditorium was packed as Executive Director John Myers and Board President David Hayes shared a few words and announced our ‘50 Donors Celebrating 50 Years,’ Bill Stamats revealed his original painting of the Penningroth Barn, and Creekside Forest School students and teachers led us all in a rendition of Happy Birthday. It was touching to see that the excitement for our 50th year spread far beyond our staff.


BioBlitz volunteers
A “bioblitz” is a survey involving the community in efforts to document as many living things as possible in a certain area.

In late June and early July we hosted our first-ever BioBlitz. Throughout the free, two-week event volunteers came out to observe and document species across our grounds and trails. In order to ensure as many people as possible could participate, the Nature Center brought in all-terrain wheelchairs, which were available to reserve for free during the event. This allowed visitors with temporary or permanent mobility issues greater access to nature — allowing them to make observations and discover nature in new and deeper ways.

By the end of the BioBlitz, 91 community members recorded more than 4,300 observations and discovered nearly 900 different plant and animal species on the land the Nature Center stewards. These observations will help to inform future land management decisions aimed at preserving the health of our woodlands, prairies and wetlands. All this was possible from community volunteers excited to explore the Nature Center’s grounds.

50th Celebration Event

50th Celebration Event
More than 400 people enjoyed the present at our 50th Celebration Event in October.

There’s no better way to celebrate with like-minded people than to host a party! On October 14th, more than 400 guests, volunteers and staff came out to Amazing Space for an outdoor gathering 50 years in the making.

The yard south of the patio was decorated with gourds, mums, hay bales and large photographs showcasing different aspects of the work that inspires people to become, and stay, connected to the Nature Center. In the middle of it all was a large, white tent reaching up into the evening sky.

Guests enjoyed live music and catered food from local vendors, sipped beer, wine or cider from area brewers, and indulged in the company of fellow Champions of Nature. For anyone who paused from the festivities long enough to look around, the collective joy was clear to see.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, every dollar from ticket sales, drink purchases and a live auction went back to support Indian Creek Nature Center’s mission. The outpouring of love felt at the event not only raised thousands of dollars, but reinforced the belief that the community is as invested in our ongoing work as we are.

Looking Forward

Students hiking at Indian Creek Nature Center
The deep roots established by the community will allow ICNC to continue flourishing for years to come.

As much fun as we had in 2023, there’s much more ahead. While we have had many firsts, from our first program on Groundhog’s Day in 1974 to our first all-terrain wheelchair reservation in 2023, there will be more firsts to come. 

The Nature Center will continue to be a leading organization that strives to connect more people with nature. During our 50th year, the community has shown us that the land restoration projects, educational programs and nature-inspired events are working wonders for the people and the land.

The first 50 years established deep roots that will allow our work to continue flourishing. Thank you for joining us this year as we honored the past, celebrated the future, and enjoyed the present. We look forward to having you join us as we create new paths in the years to come.

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