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If you have a hankering for helping nature and a thirst for delicious microbrews, Nature Calls is a benefit you can bank your bucks on.

Nature Calls is an annual event the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center relies on to provide funding for the programs it offers throughout the year.

After being hired by the Nature Center the day after she graduated from college, education programs coordinator Dawn Snyder is in her 31st year on the job and is excited for the 16th annual event that helps keep her programs running strong.

This event, which was started by local donors due to a lack of county funding, has grown and evolved over the last 16 years...so much so that the location has had to change multiple times to accommodate the growth.

"We started on the top floor of the Hilton," said Snyder. "That was our first year and we quickly outgrew the space. We then went to the Shrine Temple...we were there for several years. It was an interesting location, but we were sprawled out. It took us a week to set up. Then we went to Stoney Creek Inn for a few years. Our event has grown so much that the Sioux City Convention Center is the best fit (as far as the size) so that we can still stay in Iowa."

The money raised by this event has been used to fund projects like exhibit galleries, the nature playground and the birds of prey habitat.

"The first seven years of Nature Calls, the money raised went to the exhibit galleries," said Snyder. "Nature Calls did not pay for the $600,000 worth of renovations (there were private donations, as well), but it paid for a big chunk of that. It has helped with our Nature Playscape and live Birds of Prey. It also helps fund our summer intern program and summer day-camps. It gives college students experience in the field and provides them a salary while doing it."

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At the fundraiser, there will be a variety of beverages. Glazer's Beer & Beverage will be providing 45 drinkable options, L&L Distributing will offer 16, Marto Brewing Company will have five, Jackson Street Brewing will have three and Brioux City Brewery will serve up two. Johnson Brothers will also have a table with eight sample-able wines. (And for those who have decided to hop on the hard seltzer or cider bandwagons, there will be libations for you, as well.)

This is the Nature Center's main event of the year. Annually, it nets between $25,000 and $35,000.

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Nature Market Vendors include YLime Beads, Lexcollexion, Johnson's Mill, Second Chance Woods, Artery, S. McCulley Wildlife Art, Autumn Prairie Designs and Red Horse Art.

There will also be raffles for a couple of guns and a quilt featuring the last 15 years of Nature Calls T-shirts.

A live auction will feature items such as two art pieces painted by turtles who reside at the Nature Center (one by 3-toed box turtles and one by ornate box turtles), a home makeover from Magic Carpet and Drapery, French cognac and cognac glassware, a Charles Krypell ring, a Hard Rock Hotel package, a Tacori Candy Drop necklace, a Ponca State Park mini-lodge stay and an Old Town Heron 9XT Cloud kayak.

The $30 admission fee ($35 at the door) gets you a 12-punch card good for 12 three-ounce beverage samples and a commemorative Nature Calls mug. Heavy hors d'oeuvres will be also be served.

"It is just a ball...a gas," said Snyder. "We are a really casual event. It is a lot of fun. The selection of beers is incredible. If you are looking for a casual, low pressure event with a chance to bid on some cool items, this is the event for you. The proceeds go to our summer programming for youth as well as our summer interns and enhancements on our trails. It ends somewhat early and is at the Convention Center, so if you want to continue your night on Fourth Street, you can easily do so." 

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