Iowa DNR

While schools are closed, we're creating a series of  "Talk of Iowa" episodes that will be fun and educational for learners of all ages. Every Tuesday, we'll learn about Iowa wildlife, and every Thursday, we'll learn about Iowa history.  

Claudia McGehee Illustration

This program originally aired on June 21, 2018.  

Discussions about endangered species in Iowa often focus on the bigger, showier species that make headlines, like the bald eagle; but there are many species at risk that fly under the radar.

For instance, the Topeka Shiner, a small minnow that lives in Midwestern streams.

Ochir-Erdene Oyunmedeg / Unsplash

The grass is starting to turn green… but is your lawn following suit?

NeONBRAND / Unsplash

It’s too early to get planting in the garden, but it’s the perfect time to think about giving your shrubs and trees a trim. On this 'Horticulture Day' edition of Talk of Iowa, guest host Katelyn Harrop speaks with Richard Jauron of Iowa State University and Aaron Steil of Reiman Gardens about the best practices to prune and trim shrubs and trees.   

Mikhail Vasilyev / Unsplash

On this 'Horticulture Day' edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe speaks with Donald Lewis and Richard Jauron of Iowa State University extension and Mark Vitosh of the Iowa DNR to answer listener questions about the bugs, plants, trees and prairies in their lives.

Michal Galezewski / Unsplash


After centuries of large-scale destruction, humans need to recreate and reconnect habitat for the health of the natural and human worlds. 


Ecologist Nick Haddad has been working to create habitats and researching the power of connecting them into corridors.

Kathleen Ronayne/AP

The film "Erin Brockovich," starring Julia Roberts came out in 2000 and is based on the true story of Brockovich, a legal researcher, activist and single mother who uncovered a 30-year long industrial poisoning of a small town’s water supply by Pacific Gas and Electric. 

Ben Moon

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Doug Peacock about his work in the wilderness, tracking dangerous animals, his fight against climate change and his crusade to save grizzly bears.

Peacock is the author of “The Essential Grizzly: The Mingled Fates of Men and Bears”, “Walking It Off: A Veteran’s Chronicle of War and Wilderness” and “Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness.”

Katie Peikes / IPR File

For communities along the Iowa side of the Missouri River, March of 2019 was a disaster. Flooding rocked the region impacting residents, business owners and farmers. Forecasts for the spring of 2020 suggest new flooding conditions, which could impact many of these communities still recovering from last year’s impact.

Courtesy of Julia McGuire

Planting pollinator-friendly habitats is popular right now, but some Iowans go even further and become backyard beekeepers. Now it’s easier than ever to learn how to do it.

Coast Guard News / Flickr


From wildfires in California and Australia to category five hurricanes destroying small islands, Jerry Schnoor describes how climate change has manifested itself around the world. Iowa has experienced the effect of climate change through severe flooding and intense precipitations. 

Carole Anne Oikawa / Flickr

In September of 2019 we learned the number of birds in North America had fallen by 29 percent since 1970.

There are 2.9 billion fewer birds today than there were 50 years ago. Some bird species, however, have increased dramatically in the past 20 years, including two species beloved in Iowa. 

Bipartisan Policy / Flickr

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by Ernest Moniz. Moniz is former Secretary of Energy and the Chief Executive of the Nuclear Threat Initative, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded by former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. During this conversation, Moniz addresses many of the pressing questions surrounding the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world.

Kate Payne/IPR file

Environmental advocates are calling attention to the state of the Upper Mississippi River levee system, which was under pressure this past spring as communities saw record flooding.

The Power Of Organic Farming In Iowa

Nov 8, 2019
Liz West / Flickr

Organic farming is on the rise in Iowa according to ISU Extension Organic Specialist Kathleen Delate.

"Unique advantages associated with organic practices are pushing the industry forward," she says. 

Delate joins Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe to talk about organic farming and how crop diversity can optimize profits during this episode of the show. By cultivating many different types of organic plants, she says farmers avoid the risk of growing just one or two failing crops.

Martin Voelker

Climate Change is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity today. Understanding and responding to climate change has also become one of the most divisive issues in our culture.

It has become a political lightning rod and the schism between the scientific community and those who believe in the work of scientists and those who do not is deep. But one climate scientist, and devout Christian, says it doesn’t have to be this way.

Sgt. Jason Bushong / U.S. Army

Global climate change is a huge challenge, but it also presents real opportunities for business. Joe Bryan and John Morton of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center were guests of the Greater Des Moines Committee on Foreign Relations on Tuesday October 15. Host Ben Kieffer discusses how climate change and energy policy impact military capability and economic competitiveness, as well as international trade and diplomacy.

Jason DeCrow / AP Photos

With each passing day, it feels like we are learning more about the effects of climate change. Extreme weather events are increasingly common. These catastrophic events are also having a dramatic impact on our ecosystem and wildlife. 

Kate Payne/IPR

Sixteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg took her weekly climate strike to Iowa City Friday, and was welcomed by local elected officials and several thousand supporters.

marcia-oc / Creative Commons

The population of monarch butterflies has been cut in half over the last decade, according to University of Wisconsin Arboretum Director Karen Oberhauser. 

Oberhauser joins Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe to  discuss the latest updates on the status of monarch butterflies. She has dedicated 35 years to studying the species. As monarch butterfly populations dwindled,  her resarch expanded to focus on conservation. 

Oberhauser says monarchs have recently been faring better and have risen in population throughout the last two years.  

Katie Peikes / IPR file

A state board has signed off on $15 million to buy out damaged homes and to build and repair levees in western Iowa. But some flood recovery projects are being left on the table.

Kate Payne / IPR

The U.S. Geological Survey is expanding its network of water quality sensors to include a first-of-its-kind mobile sensor – that will cruise the Mississippi River attached to a steamboat.

Courtesy of CDC

Sioux City has been working to get its drinking water back to compliance after violating a drinking water standard for disinfection byproducts.

Kate Payne/IPR

Iowa’s elected conservationists want to stop farmers from planting up to the edges of creeks and rivers. A statewide association is pushing for mandatory 30 foot stream buffers along the state’s waterways, to slow erosion and nutrient loss.

Kate Payne/IPR

Iowa is seeing certain impacts of climate change impacts more clearly than much of the rest of the country, according to a new analysis for the Iowa Policy Project. The findings predict the trend of increasingly hot, wet weather in the Upper Midwest will likely continue and worsen if greenhouse gas emissions go unchecked.

Katie Peikes / IPR

A group of conservationists is embarking on a four-day scenic bike tour through western Iowa’s Loess Hills region. The tour, which starts Thursday, is designed to get people out to this rare landform and recognize its value.

Jessica Francis / Flickr

cogdogblog, Creative Commons

The average American consumer is responsible for 234 pounds of plastic waste each year, and of the 30 million tons of plastic produced each year across the globe, about half are created for single-use purposes. Used once, then thrown away.   

Jeremie Silvestro / Wikimedia Commons

Hibiscus blooms can be big and showy, or small and delicate. Growing hibiscus can be an easy way to add a little bit of exotic beauty to your yard or garden.

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe and Cindy Haynes, Associate Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University, chat about how to grow sun-loving, flowering hibiscus plants in Iowa.  

Amy Mayer/IPR

The roar of diesel buses, and more importantly the pollution they emit, will be reduced when CyRide, a partnership between Iowa State University, its students and the city of Ames, gets its first two all-electric buses.

CyRide received a $1.66 million grant from the Federal Transit Authority’s Low or No Emission Bus Program for the buses and the changes to the garage that will be necessary to accommodate charging them.