The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Features

June 21, 2014

Getting out in nature

CAMANCHE — Jessica Steines has always been a lover of animals and nature.

As a naturalist for Clinton County Conservation, she is able to express this appreciation, and spread it to others, through education.

"I have a job that a lot of people say 'I couldn't do that job,'" Jessica said. "That's mine. I was happy to get it."

The Calamus resident has served as a naturalist in Clinton County for eight years, working for two years in Scott County at the Wapsi River Center before that. Having grown up thinking she might become a veterinarian, Jessica fell into animal ecology in college and decided to become a land manager.

Jessica's primary duty as a naturalist, based in the Grand Mound office, is to educate the public and provide activities for people. She splits her time through the different facilities, including the Eco Tourism Center at Rock Creek Marina, near Camanche. During September, October, April and May, the organization also does free field trips.

Currently, the facility is hosting summer camps and campground programs for children from kindergarden to seventh grade. A mother of a 7-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy, Jessica enjoys working with children and teaching them about nature. She said her 4-year-old knows what a chrysalis is and other facts about nature.

Despite spending a great amount of time in nature, she also is often found at her office. A large part of her job actually includes paper work and planning programs, something that Jessica said surprises many people.

"They just think that we go, go, go and never plan," Jessica said.

Jessica wishes that more people explored nature and the world around them. An animal lover, she is is comfortable holding a snake and other local creatures. One of her goals is to get people to treat these creatures with respect, even if they are not comfortable with them.

Samantha Pidde can be contacted at samanthapidde@clintonherald.com.

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