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Iowa Water Trails Association 
October, 2013  
Nov 1 Deadline for IRR River Town of the Year Nominations
How To Develop Outdoor Photography Event for Your WT; List of Local Photo Clubs
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Iowa Rivers Revival, Protector of Rivers, Streams & Watersheds

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Egret Fishing Schoon
Great Egret posing for outdoor 
photographers Bill & Joyce Schoon.

When you say "Iowa Water Trails," most people think of paddlers in canoes or kayaks.  Their first thoughts would not be of things like the IRR River Town of the Year award, or even outdoor photography.  
An important role of the IWTA is to broaden the public's view of Water Trails, and help people understand the value and benefits of Water Trails well beyond the paddling community.
The IRR River Town of the Year award recognizes communities "which demonstrate commitment to protecting and maintaining river water quality and promoting the river as an asset to the town."  
Past recipients have been recognized for their efforts in improving dam safety, water quality, storm water management, links between water and land trails, educational materials, and economic development. Nominations for this year are due by November 1.
Outdoor photography, like birding, geocaching, insect-collecting, mussel-monitoring, or even fishing do not immediately come to mind when we hear "Water Trails." Photographers, however, are finding Water Trails to be a limitless source of inspiration, whether their interest is people, wildlife, closeups of life inside a flower, or the vistas of light playing on a river valley.
The advent of digital photography has reduced camera cost, increased camera capabilities, and eliminated the cost and delay involved in working with film.  The link between cameras and computers has helped to draw another generation to this blending of art and science.  Of the many areas of photographic interest, outdoor photography is currently considered to be growing the fastest.
In this Mid-Month issue of the IWTA Newsletter, we are again including the article in which outdoor photographer Brian Tugana shares his experience, advice, and encouragement in organizing a wildlife photography workshop with Clinton County Conservation.
We are also including a Quick Link to a pdf list of Iowa Camera Clubs and contact info, which you may find useful in organizing your own workshop, or identifying presenters or judges for other photography events relating to your Water Trail: Iowa Camera Clubs 031513 
Paddling is a wonderful way to experience our Water Trails, but for many people, it may only be part of the broader picture.  So, whether you grab a paddle, grab a camera, or grab the initiative in your community, we encourage you to get out and enjoy your Water Trail!
Nov 1 Deadline for IRR River Town of the Year Nominations
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Iowa Rivers Revival -- an organization committed to protecting Iowa's rivers and streams and watersheds -- invites you to nominate your city for IRR's River Town of the Year award.

The annual River Town of the Year award recognizes an Iowa town or city for outstanding efforts to reclaim river-fronts as anchors for economic development, recreation, and good ecological practices.  Cities are invited to apply for the award, or citizens may nominate their town.
Applications are due by November 1, 2013.   The award will be presented in January 2014 at a reception hosted by Iowa Rivers Revival in the River Town of the Year community.
For a detailed application, please go to  Previous "River Town" award recipients are Webster City, Elkader, Coon Rapids, Cedar Falls, Charles City, Central City, and Dubuque.  The web site has previous winning cities' applications for the award, IRR news releases, and news coverage.
The River Town of the Year award recognizes a city's outstanding work to enhance connections to its river.  For example, Dubuque was honored for making the Mississippi the heart of a remarkable cultural, environmental, and economic renaissance over the last two decades.  Central City used the Flood of 1999 as a crucial turning point and now features recreation, tourism and economic development related to the Wapsipinicon River.  Charles City was honored for responding to severe floods in 1999 and 2008 "by embracing the Cedar River with new ideas and bold projects," including transforming a low-head dam into Iowa's first whitewater kayak course and installing the state's largest permeable paving system.   Applicants must demonstrate commitment to protecting and maintaining river water quality and promoting the river as an asset to the town.     

Central City IRR RTOY
New paved trail along the Wapsi River in Central City,
last year's "IRR River Town of the Year" award recipient.


Other activities could include:  dam-safety efforts, river-oriented tourism efforts, river clean-up projects, Water Trail designation projects, innovative storm water and river protection projects, walking trails along the river, education and advocacy by local river or watershed groups, and efforts for river use and appreciation (restaurants, bed & breakfasts, bait shops, boat rentals).


For more information, please go to the web site -- or contact: 

Jenn Dreier, IRR Administrative Coordinator:, 515-724-4093.

Developing an Outdoor Photography Event for Your Water Trail
Camera Line Art Image


(Please note that we have added a Quick Link to a pdf list of Iowa Camera Clubs and contact info, which you may find useful in organizing outdoor photography workshops, contests, or other events relating to your water trail.  Iowa Camera Clubs 031513 )


Retired Clinton physician Brian Tugana is an outdoor photographer and driving force behind an annual calendar to recognize area photographers and support Quad-City area nonprofit organizations.  Below, Brian shares the experience of organizing and executing a Wildlife Photography Workshop with Clinton County Conservation in March, 2013. 


A Tool for Promoting Your Organization 

& Your Water Trail

Brian Tugana


With fall heading our way, it is not too early to begin to think about the 2014 season of exploring the beauty of Iowa water trails.


If you are looking for a nice way to kick of your 2014 WT season, let me share a recent experience and add an arrow to your quiver for increasing awareness of your facility or organization.



At the end of 2012 the Clinton County Conservation Board completed a beautiful new facility, the Mississippi River Eco Center, located in the Rock Creek Marina and Campground.The staff was looking for ways to encourage regional community members to visit the facility with the hope that they will take part in various events and opportunities in the future.


The Idea

The digital revolution has spawned an explosive growth of photography as an avocation. Photography educational offerings, hardbound and digital, are flourishing.


The concept was to sponsor a wildlife photography workshop at the facility.  A photography enthusiast with success in the wildlife arena and with an extensive network of photographic contacts in the region was contacted and invited to put on a couple hour educational program.  He demurred on the lone wolf approach, but instead, offered to recruit a diverse group of speakers each of whom would talk for a brief period.


From Concept to Reality

The format of the workshop was directed at encouraging the audience to think broadly as various aspects of wildlife photography.  In addition to photographers who achieved recognition and success as wildlife photographers, a university avian expert and researcher emphasized the importance of bird behavior, a college fine arts instructor talked about issues of composition, and a wildlife photography contest judge discussed things he looks for when judging contest photographs.


The workshop was promoted in both traditional and non-traditional ways.  Ads were placed in regional newspapers; a radio interview was taped; along with emailing an electronic flier promoting the workshop.  The various presenters, each of whom had different networks, were encouraged to promote the workshop using the electronic flier.  Several large churches in the region were asked to help with the promotion.  Paper fliers were hung at high traffic sites.


While the workshop was free, people were encouraged to register so an adequate amount of handouts could be created.  As the presentation day approached, it became apparent that the turnout would be much larger than expected.  Attendance at prior events at the facility had maxed out around 30.  Pre-registrants for the workshop approached 130.


Event Day

Despite a rainy cold day, more than 180 people came out and attended the workshop.  Both presenters and staff were pleased that the audience remained constant throughout the four hour event. 

A couple characteristics were very well received and were felt to positively impact audience response:


  1. The seven presenters were limited to 20 minutes and 'encouraged' repetitively before the event to stick strictly to the time schedule.  One or two rambling presenters can end up driving folks to the exits in droves. 
  2. The audience was 'encouraged' not to ask questions during a presentation.  We didn't want the inevitable workshop attendee who seemed to love to hear themselves talk or to debate presenters to derail a presentation.  A period for questions was allocated in the transition time between presenters.

A brief lunch period was built into the program.  The audience was able to purchase a plate lunch at a reasonable price.  With the large turnout, the event generated money for some future facility enhancements.


Logo Clinton Co Con


A pre-season kick-off wildlife photography workshop proved to be a highly successful way to introduce people who may 

well utilize the conservation area and facility in the future to a newly minted gem.  Throughout the day, many attendees were heard to remark that they had no awareness that the facility existed.


The conservation staff's main responsibility was handling the logistics of the event.  A local photography enthusiast recruited fellow presenters, served as event emcee, and through his network and that of his fellow presenters, recruited a lion's share of attendees.


Lessons Learned

In hindsight, the timing of the event was extremely and accidentally fortuitous.  The event was held on Saturday, March 9th.  There was no competition from NFL or NBA playoffs. 


A survey of 106 attendees revealed that traditional ways of promoting such events may have had their day.  A majority and surprising number of attendees were encouraged to attend via Facebook and electronic networking approaches. 


An often-overlooked way to promote such events is through the electronic networks that many churches have established.  A number were very accommodating in passing on the information about the workshop to their members.


We Hope That You Are Enjoying the IWTA Newsletter

Our thanks to everyone who is providing the event information, updates, and feedback which supports the IWTA Newsletter, along with the water trail movement in Iowa.  
The IWTA mission is to facilitate the exchange of information, ideas, and encouragement among Iowans working to create, enhance, or utilize our water trails.  We measure the success of the IWTA Newsletter by how much our subscribers share about their efforts to improve the water trail experience across Iowa.  Thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement.
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Gregg Stark
Editor, Iowa Water Trails Association Newsletter