Public Outreach

Programs, partnerships, and events

Community events

Being present at public events and meetings can be an effective way to engage with the community. Some roadside managers have a booth at the county fair, for example. 

In odd-numbered years, the Iowa DNR holds Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) regional assemblies around Iowa; these assemblies are public meetings where information about REAP expenditures is presented and attending state officials listen to public feedback. Since 3% of REAP goes toward roadside vegetation management, roadside managers often attend to answer any questions about how those dollars are spent toward managing local roadside vegetation.

Presentations for community groups and schools

Groups that roadside managers have spoken at include local chapters of master gardeners, master conservationists, Sierra Club, Pheasants Forever, Rotary Club, and Kiwanis Club. The TPC roadside program manager has a PowerPoint template with information about the benefits of roadside programs that roadside managers can request and modify to suit their needs.

Roadside managers have also spoken to school groups. The TPC roadside program manager may have stickers available that have proven popular with schoolchildren. If your county has a root banner, inviting children to lay down next to the banner and see how their height compares can be a fun activity. Other educational activities related to prairie roots that meet Iowa educational standards are provided on the Educator Resources page of the Tallgrass Prairie Center website.

Press releases

Notify landowners and the public before major work is undertaken to maintain transparency. Some roadside managers also annually issue a press release about Iowa’s mowing law in April or early May. See an example press release in the Appendix.

Adopt-a-Prairie Program

A small number of counties have allowed landowners to partner with the roadside program to re-establish prairie vegetation in the roadside bordering their property. The county roadside manager removes the existing vegetation and replaces it with native vegetation if the landowner’s application is accepted; there does not have to be a road regrading project associated with the reseeding. 

Outreach materials and signage 

Signage for plantings

Use signage in plantings and high-quality areas to showcase native species. Signage lets the public know that a planting is intentional and not a bunch of “weeds.” Some counties prefer to print their own signs that include the county logo; Iowa Prison Industries is commonly used to print signs. Signs can include language such as “Roadside Prairie” or “Native Vegetation—Do Not Mow or Spray.” Counties that have an adopt a prairie program for residents and want a large number of signs can check with the LRTF coordinator to see if they can apply for an LRTF grant to purchase a large number of signs.

Other counties with a program obtain signs from the TPC roadside program manager, who uses LRTF funds to pay Iowa Prison Industries to print a certain number of signs each year. Check with the program manager to see what signs are available.

For landowners who want to know where they can get signs for their prairie plantings on private property, the Tallgrass Prairie Center maintains a webpage that directs people to different sources for signs.

Frequently asked questions

The TPC website includes a list of frequently asked questions and responses regarding roadside vegetation management.

Posters and guidebooks

The Living Roadway Trust Fund has free attractive posters available such as the Jewels of the Prairie poster set, a set of seven attractively illustrated guides to prairie plants and animals; the pollinator poster series; and a “roadsides of opportunities” poster. 

They also print spiral-bound guidebooks on how to identify pollinators, seedlings, and trees and shrubs that are free to the public. These materials are helpful to have available when tabling at community events and are available through the Living Roadway Trust Fund Publications website or by checking with the TPC roadside program manager, who may have some available.

Brochures: roadside management series

The TPC roadside program manager has brochures on roadside vegetation topics such as Iowa’s mowing law and landowner questions regarding roadsides. 

Brochures: how to restore prairie

The Center has a set of 10 brochures that provided detailed how-to technical information for topics such as collecting seed, designing seed mixes, site preparation, seeding, and maintaining plantings. The information is distilled from the Tallgrass Prairie Center Guide to Prairie Restoration in the Upper Midwest and can be downloaded on the Technical Guide Series part of the Tallgrass Prairie Center website.

Prairie root banners

The Center’s banners with life-size images of roots available for ordering capture people’s attention by conveying the tremendous density and size of prairie root systems. Approximately 14-foot long when rolled out, these portable and durable banners roll up for easy storage. Some counties or cities display them in the local nature center, library, or county courthouse. 

Prairie root specimens that are up to ten-foot long are an especially effective visual tool for public outreach. Similar to the prairie root banners, counties may display prairie root specimens at the local nature center, library, or county courthouse. To cover the cost of growing the roots over three years, the Center charges over $2,000 per root specimen plus shipping. 


The TPC roadside program manager may have stickers available that say “Roadsides for Wildlife” or that have the Iowa Roadside Management logo. 

Pull-up banner

The TPC roadside program manager may have pull-up banners with roadside vegetation information that can be borrowed for outreach events such as tabling at local community events.

Wall calendar

The TPC roadside program manager produces an annual wall calendar with a theme related to roadside vegetation management. For example, themes have included “Historic Roadsides,” “Celebrating Remnants,” and “Plant This Not That.” Wall calendars are mailed to roadside programs in the fall.

Lesson plans

Prairie roots 

A team of Iowa educators created a set of prairie roots lesson plans that align with Iowa Core standards for upper elementary and middle school students. Roadside managers can share the lessons with local educators or implement one of the lessons when visiting a local school.

Social media

A few roadside programs maintain their own social media account, but it is more common for programs to occasionally submit posts to a larger account such as the county conservation, county road department, county, or city social media account. According to social media best practices, posting at least two to three times a week is best for engagement and visibility. 

The TPC roadside program manager maintains an Iowa Roadside Management FacebookInstagram, and YouTube accounts for public outreach. 

Recordkeeping and cost data

Good recordkeeping is an important part of effective communication because it conveys transparency and builds trust. Accurate and up-to-date digital recordkeeping is a vital part of a roadside manager’s job, and should be started immediately. Roadside managers usually have to report to county boards of supervisors or a city council. Detailed, readily-accessible records provide an easy way to supplement reports like these with numerical values (including number of acres planted, volume of seed obtained through the Transportations Alternative Program, or the number of locations sprayed). Proof of accurate record keeping helps to justify the existence of a roadside manager’s position. 

Keeping account of costs and material-use is particularly useful, as it can be used as proof of the money and labor saving benefits of IRVM, particularly in reducing mowing and spraying. It is advisable to keep separate records for herbicide applications and other IRVM activities, as roadside managers are required to document every time they spray. 

As mentioned earlier, location-centric records are an especially useful tool. Many roadside managers have partnered with their county’s GIS division to develop useful tools for this purpose. 

Report about public perspectives on roadside vegetation

In 2016, Trees Forever received funding from LRTF to hire a marketing firm, Mindfire Communications, to research how Iowans, stakeholders, and legislators view the mission of the Living Roadway Trust Fund. Key survey questions included the following:

  • Who are our target audiences and where do we reach them?
  • What messages resonate with them?
  • How do we best drive engagement and support as well as perceptions of value in LRTF initiatives?

Read reports summarizing results.