DEWITT — From a free Eco cruise on the Mississippi River to a tour of the nighttime sky at the Monsignor Menke Observatory, from a nature hike to a slightly scary movie, the Clinton County Conservation Board offers mostly free activities for the family during August and September.
And then there’s the Mississippi River Eco Tourism Center with its 8,000-gallon-aquarium displaying local river species. And sometimes you can catch a naturalist in full scuba gear inside the aquarium cleaning the glass.
Here are some of the park events listed on The Heron newsletter for August and September:
• The free naturalist-led cruises on the 26-passenger Blue Heron pontoon boat take place on Thursdays, sometimes an Early Bird cruise at 9 a.m. and other times a Sunset cruise at 7 p.m. The cruises are popular. Reservations should be made in advance by calling 259-1876.
• “See, touch and learn about 10 or more species of Iowa snakes” will be the program offered at Rock Creek Park at 1 p.m. Aug. 10.
• Hayrack rides will take begin at 7 p.m. Aug.10 at both Rock Creek and Eden Valley Parks.
• The Menke Observatory open house at the Wapsi Center is scheduled for dusk of Aug. 10. Call (563) 333-6141 to find out if weather conditions are right for viewing the night sky.
• Moonlight and Music on the Blue Heron Eco Cruise boat is scheduled for 9 p.m. Aug.15. Call 259-1876 to make a free reservation.
• The annual Catfish Classic will be at Rock Creek from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 17 to raise funds to help finish the Eco Center. Costs are $50 per boat and $10 for the Big Fish Pot. A minimum of 70 percent payout of the fees to the top three boats is guaranteed. There will be door prizes for all contestants.
• Fun for the whole family is promised at a nature hike and the making of sun catchers from 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 17 at the Wapsi Center. Come for a nature hike to learn about some of Iowa’s natives. Sun catchers will be made from items picked up from the hike. Registration is required. Call (563) 328-3286.
• Half price rental of canoes and kayaks will be offered at Rock Creek on Sept.1 for some quality family time on the river.
• At a Youth Outdoor Skills Day from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at the CIinton Izaak Walton facility, kids ages 11 to 17 will learn about safety and skills at stations staffed by members of conservation organizations.