Elizabeth Hill

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I studied at Evergreen 2001-2003, and then graduated from Drake University in 2007


Falcon Guides, Outfit Your Mind


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Biographical Note

After studying ecology and natural history at The Evergreen State College, Elizabeth Hill returned to her home state to write Hiking Iowa: A Guide to Iowa's Greatest Hiking Adventures (2005). Elizabeth graduated from Drake University, earning her degree in Environmental Science and Biology, and today works as an Ecologist for Whiterock Conservancy, an agro-ecological land trust in western Iowa.

Elizabeth Hill bookPublication Type


Latest Publication Title

Hiking Iowa: A Guide to Iowa's Greatest Hiking Adventures, Falcon, 2005

Publication Excerpt

Along the Missouri River floodplain, a ribbon of mysteriously wrinkled hills forms a narrow north-south band nearly 200 miles in length. Known as the Loess Hills, they are some of the most interesting and engaging of Iowa’ landforms. To some they are the ridge where the western plains begin. Connie Mutel, author of Fragile Giants: Natural History of the Loess Hills, declared that she never felt like she was at home in Iowa until she first encountered the Loess hills. Aside from being the deepest deposition of loess in the Western Hemisphere and thus some of the most dramatic topographic relief in the state, the Loess hills harbor incredibly varied ecological communities. They act as an arm of western habitat extended into the Upper Midwest, rich with short-grass prairie and desert plants and animals. The ability for western species to thrive in the Loess Hills is due mainly to the characteristics of the yellow, silty matter that composes them.

The Loess Hills' fragility is their very essence. Because of the variance in slope, gradient, aspect, and moisture content, the Loess Hills were historically less disturbed by agriculture and development. However, fire-suppression and grazing has, for now, determined the tumultuous relationship of prairie and forest on the once-bald hills. Forest cover has risen exponentially since the areas settlement in the 1840’s and merited the creation of Loess Hills State Forest in 1986. The push to preserve tracts of land within the Loess Hills has been spurred by recognition of their exceptional and distinctive traits and communities. Hiking in the Loess Hills is the best way to experience their grandeur, and the bulk of the trails traverse prairie-covered ridgetops or cool, dark hollows.

How did Evergreen help you in your career?

From Dr. Steven G. Herman and Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, I learned how to explore, experience, and appreciate the wonders of all things growing--and how to write it all down, making it accessible to others.