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About the Prairie Heritage Center
Your Prairie Heritage Center provides environmental education as it relates to the prairie and our region, is striving to preserve and protect our prairie heritage, and encourages economic development with opportunities for recreation and historic exploration.

Your Prairie Heritage Center building consists of 4,786 square feet on the main level. This space houses a 1,260 square foot meeting space with kitchenette, a 2,070 square foot display area, restrooms, two offices, and a workspace. An additional 3,340 square foot basement area is being used for storage, utilities and select programming.

The display area focuses on the prairie and the change that has occurred in our landscape over time. A large, beautiful circular prairie diorama occupies the center of the display room. This exhibit depicts the plants and wildlife found in the prairie by featuring mounted animal specimens and various grasses and forbs. Mounted birds will be suspended over the display in the future. The diorama also shows life beneath the surface of the ground with a cut-out view of a section of the display.

Other exhibits are located around the exterior wall of the display room, and some future planned exhibits are in the process of being designed and built:

  • Glacial/Geological display depicts Iowa before and after the prairies began. This display also explains Glacial impacts and shows local glacial remnants.
  • A future Mill Creek/Native American exhibit will display artifacts from local archeological sites. Native American cultures and life style information will be discussed.
  • Prairie Succession touch screen Kiosk with 13 programs, made possible through a grant from Iowa Farm Bureau.
  • Fire's role in the life of a prairie is demonstrated in the Fire display.
  • A Heritage Wall is up, showing early settlers and depicting the cultural history of the area.
  • Additional spaces are being allotted to displays of conservation practices, ecology, and local communities.

The grounds at the site provide additional educational opportunities:

  • A sod house corner detail helps depict life in the pioneer era. O'Brien County was 99% prairie. Thus few people had the luxury of a log home.
  • Prairie acreage is being restored with a wide variety of native grasses and wildflowers. Over 200 species of flowers and plants existed in the Tallgrass Prairie ecosystem. A special plot highlights plants with medicinal value and those used for food.
  • Butterfly garden and bird feeding stations, demonstrate methods to attract backyard wildlife.
  • Mill Creek lodge and agricultural plot will interpret life among the late Prehistoric Indians found in O'Brien County in 1100 - 1250 A.D.
  • Live display of Bison, to begin in the Spring of 2007 will highlight one of the dominant grazing animals of the prairie at the time of white settlement.
  • Medicine Wheel exhibit will provide a teaching tool for solar calendars, seasonal change, and solar system modeling. Native Americans constructed such circles throughout the Great Plains.
  • Interpretive/hiking trail will provide paths for hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, bird watching, and a variety of other activities.

Approximately 1800 acres of land to the north and south of the site are owned by DNR and other state agencies. Much of this land was purchased under the REAP program which means that, although the land is owned by government agencies, it remains on the tax rolls. This prairie complex provides a unique opportunity to preserve pristine prairie plots recognized as important to protect, in a 1940's study. The complex provides a large tract of habitat land crucial in wildlife diversity. The area has been nationally recognized in the Watchable Wildlife Program and as an Important Birding Area. The Prairie Heritage Center will contributes in protecting Iowa's native plants and animals.

Remember our hours are - Wednesday through Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., and Saturday - Sunday 1p.m.- 4 p.m.

O'Brien County Conservation Board
Sioux Valley Conservation Association
4931 Yellow Avenue
Peterson, IA 51047
712 295-7200

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