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* Nature's NoelNature's Noel

Time: 9:00 am

Nature’s Noel Saturday, December 6 9 AM-Noon Let heaven and nature sing! Centerpieces, wreaths and swags made with fresh greens; frozen soups and appetizers; vendors with various handmade wares; cookie dough and candy; and live music combine to create a festive holiday event. Shop early for the best selection! Sponsored by the ICNC Guild to benefit the Nature Center. Free.

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* Fighting Child Trafficking Fighting Child Trafficking

Time: 7:00 pm

Fighting Child Trafficking with Hope and Freedom through Rapha House Tuesday, December 9 at 7:00 PM Indian Creek Nature Center 6665 Otis Road SE, Cedar Rapids 319-362-0664 Rapha House exists to love, rescue, and heal girls who have been rescued from trafficking and sexual exploitation. This year Rapha House opened the first special needs "safe house" in Cambodia. Doug and Donna Burkle have spent the past year getting this program started. This evening will be a summation of what has been accomplished (raising chickens and creating gardens) and what needs to be done when they return to Cambodia in January. All are welcome to attend.

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* Home School-Iowa Geology Home School-Iowa Geology

Time: 1:00 pm

Home School Program 2014-15 “Explore Your Wild World” Iowa’s Geology. Wednesday, December 10, 1 PM. Many geological forces have shaped Iowa’s landscape. Learn how oceans, erosion, rivers & glaciers have shaped and carved the “land between two rivers.” Learn to identify the different kinds of rocks, discover how they form and perform experiments on various common Iowa minerals to identify each. Iowa has a rich geology that is an important part of our natural history. 1 1/2 hour. Fee: $5 per student age 5 and older

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* Coffee and ChatCoffee and Chat

Time: 9:00 am

Coffee and Chat Thursday, December 11, 9-10 a.m. On the second Thursday of each month, all are welcome to gather in the sunroom at Indian Creek Nature Center to enjoy coffee and conversation about the latest happenings at the Nature Center. Enjoy a social time, learn what’s currently happening in nature, meet Nature Center staff, and become better acquainted with our facilities, programs and trails. Free.

* Coffee and ChatCoffee and Chat

Time: 9:00 am

Coffee and Chat. Each month on the second Thursday gather in the sunroom at Indian Creek Nature Center to enjoy coffee and conversation about the latest happenings at Indian Creek Nature Center. Enjoy a social time, and learn what’s happening in nature at that time, meet Nature Center staff and become better acquainted with our facilities, programs and trails. Free

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* The Geminid WalkThe Geminid Walk

Time: 7:00 pm

The Geminid Walk. Friday , December 12 ,7 p.m. This is the weekend of the meteor shower but rather than do a watch, we would do a trail walk watching for meteors. If cloudy, the walk will still go on to enjoy an early winter evening. Free.

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* BSA - Geology BadgeBSA - Geology Badge

Time: 9:30 am

Saturday, December 13, 2014 9:30-11:30 AM Boy Scouts - Webelos Registration is CLOSED this workshop is FULL! Thanks for your support. Be a geologist for a day! Explore exciting careers in geology, discover fossils to take home, experiment with minerals, and travel back in time to learn how our planet has been shaped and reshaped. (Fulfills requirements 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 & 8)

* Winter Camping WorkshopWinter Camping Workshop

Time: 1:00 pm

Winter Camping Workshop Saturday, December 13, 1 PM Yes, winter is a great time to camp—no bugs, no crowds, and beautiful scenery. But you need to know how to be comfortable and safe. Rodney Bradley, experienced Michigan backcountry winter camper, will discuss gear, backcountry travel, clothing, food and safety. Registration recommended by 4 PM on Wednesday, December 10. M $10; NM $15.

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* Nature Center CLOSEDNature Center CLOSED

Time: 8:30 am

ICNC will be closed on Monday, December 15 for staff development.

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* Winter Solstice at PrairiewoodWinter Solstice at Prairiewood

Time: 6:00 pm

Winter Solstice at Prairiewoods Thursday, December 18 6-8 PM The hearth is the heart of the home, and the sun is Earth’s hearth. Both help to warm away night’s darkness! Commemorate the stillness of the sun and the blessing of the hearth during the winter solstice at Prairiewoods (120 E. Boyson Road, Hiawatha). Celebrate the longest night that gives way to greater light by participating in an ancient Celtic tradition of blessing the sacred hearth and welcoming the Christmas light. Please bring a symbol of home.This is part of a series of seasonal celebrations sponsored by Prairiewoods, Matthew 25, Ushers Ferry Historic Village and Indian Creek Nature.  No registration required.  Free will donation.

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* Merry ChristmasMerry Christmas

Nature Center offices and buildings are closed December 24-25 for the Christmas holiday. All trails are open for your enjoyment!

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* Merry ChristmasMerry Christmas

Nature Center offices and buildings are closed December 24-25 for the Christmas holiday. All trails are open for your enjoyment!

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* Orienteering - Dec. 27, 2014Orienteering - Dec. 27, 2014

Time: 1:00 pm

Orienteering Saturday, December 27, 1 PM Orienteering is a common winter sport in many northern European countries. Participate on foot, skis, or snowshoes. Bring your own compass or borrow one of ours. Receive basic compass instruction before seeking control points along the trails. Registration is suggested. M $8; NM $12; M Family $18; NM Family $25.

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* Snowshoe Adventure - Dec. 29Snowshoe Adventure - Dec. 29

Time: 10:00 am

Snowshoe Adventure Monday, December 29, 10 AM Slip on a pair of our snowshoes and join us to explore winter trails. No experience needed. Learn how to stay upright and warm, and how to maneuver over or around obstacles. Wear either winter or hiking boots. Hiking or ski poles are helpful but optional. M $8; NM $12, Adults and Children. This event is for children age second grade and up with adults. Children should wear big snow boots to fit into the snowshoes. If you are considering purchasing snowshoes and you are not sure what type would be best for you, come check us out! We have several different styles to try. If we have less than 4" of snow, we will learn about snowshoeing and go for a winter hike. Dress for the weather.

* Build a Quinzhee - Dec. 29Build a Quinzhee - Dec. 29

Time: 1:00 pm

Build a Quinzhee Monday, December 29, 1 PM Bring your snow shovel to create a quinzhee—a traditional Athabascan Native American shelter made of snow. We’ll work in two stages, with a warm-up/hot chocolate break in between. Rodney, our shelter building pro, will share ideas and tips on dressing for the weather and being safe. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Please preregister. Adult or children: M $4; NM $6. If we don't have sufficient snow coverage, we will take a winter hike and learn about outdoor winter survival.

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* Tracks, Tracks, TracksTracks, Tracks, Tracks

Time: 1:00 pm

Tracks, Tracks, Tracks Tuesday, December 30, 1 PM Learn to recognize tracks you see in snow as you create a unique track t-shirt with paints and rubber animal paw molds. Transform your gently-used cotton t-shirt into a fun new garment. You provide the shirt; we bring the rest! Children must be accompanied by an adult. Adults or children: M $4; NM $6.

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Woodlands

Stop by the barn and pick up the Cedar Greenbelt Trail Map to easily locate the various types of woodlands at the Indian Creek Nature Center.

Oak-Hickory Savanna

Photo of an oak-hickory savanna at the Indian Creek Nature CenterThis is habitat where the edge of the prairie blends into the deciduous forest. In a savanna, several huge spreading trees grow on an acre, with a riot of flowers and grasses thriving beneath them. Savannas once covered many Iowa hilltops. It was one of the first habitats to disappear during settlement, as old oaks were cut for lumber and fuel and the land was plowed into fields. A good example of an oak-hickory savanna is just north of the Lynne Stimple Prairie off Otis Road.

Sugarbush

Photo of a tapped maple tree with two sap collection bags for maple syruping at the Indian Creek Nature CenterBox elders, sugar maples and silver maples all provide sweet sap, which the Nature Center boils into maple syrup in a tradition that dates back to Native Americans. Visit in late winter and early spring to see sap dripping from hundreds of tapped trees and savor the sweet smell of boiling sap rising from the sugarhouse. The Nature Center’s sugarbush is located just across the footbridge south of the barn and sugarhouse .

Wood Duck Way and the Riparian Floodplain

Children walking on Wood Duck Way boardwalk at Indian Creek Nature CenterFollow a boardwalk into the riparian area, and you’ll meet giant cottonwoods and silver maples. Look for signs helping you find younger trees, such as swamp white oak and northern pecan. These new trees diversify both the species of the area and the age of the forest, providing boundless opportunities for wildlife to thrive. Sit on a bench and listen for the sound of pileated woodpeckers drumming on dead snags, or look for the large holes they chip into the trees. Watch for elusive wood ducks swimming in the large ephemeral pool near the boardwalk, or a female ducking into a nest box in the spring. The path will eventually take you to the Lynch Wetland.

Wood Duck Way is part of the riparian floodplain - lowlands bordering Indian Creek and the Cedar River. The floodplain is one of nature’s water purification systems. Silver maples, cottonwood, black willows, river birch and sycamore thrive here. Their root systems are shallow and widespread, a special adaptation for surviving periodic flooding.  During floods, rising water leaves the banks of the rivers and creeks and spreads out across the floodplain. This slows the current, allowing sediments and contaminants to settle out. The Nature Center’s riparian forests are along either side of Bena Brook, Indian Creek and along the north side of the Cedar River.