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Fort Smith nature center focuses on Dutch oven cooking in November

BY Jim Harris

ON 10-25-2017


Oct. 25, 2017

Jim Harris

Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine

A night of Dutch oven cooking is in the works at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Education program specialists Kendra Ingle and Chad Lowe will lead the cooking class, part of the nature center’s twice-a-month “Nature Nights” schedule of family-oriented outdoors events that fall on a Tuesday or Friday.

Registration for the annual fall event already is up to 20 people, Ingle said, and registration remains open and is free. Call the center’s front desk at 479-452-3993 to register.
Ingle said the class will use a couple of dinner recipes from Phyllis Speer, the noted outdoors cookbook author who was with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for more than two decades and appeared on “Arkansas Outdoors” and “Cooking on the Wild Side” on AETN for many years.

“Chad and I will get two main dishes going, then we’ll talk about Dutch ovens, how to care for them, discuss the different options that people can buy and where to get them,” Ingle said. “While those two main dishes are cooking, we’ll have the participants put together a couple of cobblers and show them how to put them on the coals.

“Then, we’ll sample our dishes while the cobblers cook, and then have cobbler. The whole event runs about 90 minutes and it’s really laid back. It’s just a great way to introduce people to the Dutch oven, give them a few easy recipes they can do themselves and show them how to cook on coals with them, what all you need and how to handle the tools that go with them. It’s very basic. There is a lot of interest in this in the fall when people want to get out but without full-blown camping.”

The fun takes place at the Nature Center’s multipurpose room and on the deck right outside. The class will begin at 6 p.m.

The other “Nature Nights” event for November is an Owl Prowl, led by education program specialist Karen Westcamp-Johnson on Friday, Nov. 10. “We basically just hike in the woods and I try to call in owls and see if we can get them in close. I usually do an Owl Prowl two or three times a year.”

Last month, Westcamp-Johnson led participants on two educational barge tours on the Arkansas River for “Nature Night,” discussing river safety, wildlife typically found on the river, and the river’s lock and dam system. 

For more information on events at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, visit their Facebook page at, or their website,

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