All tours will take place on Wednesday, August 9. Departure and return times are subject to change. Final details will be provided at www.swcs.org/23AC. The tours will give exposure to interesting and informative conservation work happening in the area. Be sure to register early to secure a seat. SWCS reserves the right to cancel a tour that does not have the minimum number of attendees and to change the maximum number of attendees.

Tour #1: Voyage through Town, Country, and History
Wednesday, August 9
8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

This tour will take you through a brief history of a central Iowa watershed. We will start at a Century Farm and learn about and appreciate the stewardship and commitment to the farm of the landowners through generations. Soil and water conservation practices implemented years ago will be viewed, followed by edge-of-field practices including a saturated buffer, a woodchip bioreactor, and filter strips. Next we will see the latest practices implemented for soil health including prairie strips, cover crops, and no-till. Water quality and other monitoring systems installed will also be discussed.

The next stop will be the SWCS headquarters for a catered lunch, a tour of your Society’s home office and grounds, and exploration of conservation education demonstration trailers developed by Iowa Learning Farms and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Built in 1963 and funded entirely through member donations, SWCS headquarters houses staff offices, meeting space, and the SWCS archives. It is the oldest nonprofit organization in Ankeny and one of the city's oldest businesses. SWCS headquarters is dedicated to the memory of Hugh Hammond Bennett and is the home of his collection of conservation documents and mementoes. The tour will include a tour of the SWCS headquarters building and its uniquely mid-century modern architecture. Never-before-displayed artifacts in the Hugh Hammond Bennett Collection will be exhibited.

The next part of the tour will include driving through the Prairie Trails development of the City of Ankeny. This mixed commercial and residential subdivision has green infrastructure designed, planned, and implemented from the early stages of development. You will see several examples of the stormwater “treatment trains." As we travel further downstream into the watershed we will stop at Trail’s End Mitigation Bank to discuss the need for, and development of, a wetland mitigation bank. The final tour stop will be at Gray’s Station Stormwater Wetland.

Tickets: $100 early/$125 late (after June 26)

Tour #2: Generational Women in Agriculture Tour
Wednesday, August 9
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM 

This tour, supported by Women in NRCS (WiN), will visit two unique agricultural operations that are generationally owned and operated by women. The farms are located within 30 minutes of the conference center. Each producer will host participants on her farm and give a tour of the operations. They will share their stories of generational differences, achievements, and struggles while describing how they overcame obstacles. The Generational Women in Agriculture tour will ultimately highlight the progress of women owners and operators in agriculture.

Tickets: $75 early/$100 late (after June 26)

Tour #3: Downtown Des Moines Walking Tour
Wednesday, August 3
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM 

This walking tour will highlight several conservation-minded components of the downtown Des Moines metro area. The first stop will include a tour of the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, home of the annual award to recognize great achievements in agriculture and fighting hunger. The tour will highlight the story of the founder, Dr. Norman Borlaug; the history of the World Food Prize; the work of their laureates, other awardees, and youth programs; as well as a historical and architectural perspective of the transformation from a public library built in 1903 to the LEED Platinum-certified World Food Prize headquarters of today. LEED features include solar panels; geothermal wells; a rainwater harvesting cistern; waste reduction through reuse of existing materials as well as recycled, regional materials; lighting and electrical efficiencies; and many more.

The next stop will visit the Market District, part of a forward-looking, sustainable-focused, and intentional mixed-use development to renovate an underutilized area of downtown and transform it into a community of the future. The 12 square block area was a former industrial hub known for flooding issues but is quickly turning into a model for sustainability with water quality as its bedrock. The Market District Green Infrastructure Plan features stormwater management, green infrastructure, pedestrian-friendly and cycling-focused enhancements, as well as business and neighborhood connectivity. This discussion will focus on the importance of public-private partnerships to push large-scale green infrastructure projects forward and pave the way for bold urban water management solutions.

The last part of the tour will take place at Peace Tree Brewing Company and feature a suite of guest speakers while you enjoy a refreshing beverage of your choice. Peace Tree started in 2009 in Knoxville, Iowa, and expanded to Des Moines in 2016. They are one of Iowa’s first craft breweries and the first 100% woman-owned brewery in the state! Their Des Moines tap room features 23 regularly rotating beers, guest cider, beer cocktails, wine by the glass, tea, and root beer. Drinks will be available for purchase.

A maximum of 30 people may join this tour, so register early! Please note, this will be an active walking tour (three miles total), although there will be rest stops along the way.

Tickets: $50 early/$75 late (after June 26)