The Ottumwa Courier

News in brief

February 28, 2014

Master Gardeners to host Jim Kessler March 4

OSKALOOSA — An education series will be hosted by the Mahaska County Master Gardeners Tuesday evenings in March. These meetings will be held at the Mahaska County Extension Office at 7 p.m. There is no fee to attend, and the public is encouraged to attend.

The speaker for the March 4 will be Jim Kessler, an Oskaloosa native. He taught biology at Newton High School from 1972-2005. Currently, he teaches environmental biology and introductory biology at Iowa Valley Community College in Grinnell. Kessler is a 1968 graduate of William Penn University and has a master's degree in biology from the University of Northern Iowa.

Kessler has been active in native plant gardening, prairie restoration, and native planting management for 40 years. He and his wife, Kathy, live on 30 acres of reconstructed prairies, oak savannas, wetlands and woodland south of Grinnell.

His talk, "Why Native Plants Matter to Songbirds, Pollinators and Gardeners," will focus on how native wildflower gardens can attract beneficial insects and bring beauty to both vegetable and flower gardens. He will also explain how native plantings reduce soil erosion and flooding, increase habitat, increase songbird populations and can reverse the decline in pollinators, including honeybees and Monarchs. His presentation will be illustrated with photographs taken on the Kessler property.

Kessler currently provides consulting services for people, organizations, and corporations interested in starting native plantings, native wildflower gardens, and rain gardens on their properties.

More information about other horticulture events can be found at the Mahaska County Extension Office, 212 N. I St., Oskaloosa, by calling 641-673-5841 or visiting

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