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University of Iowa News Release


March 30, 2010

UI Press publishes two new Bur Oak Guides

Two new publications in the Bur Oak Guides series -- "Iowa Farm in Your Pocket: A Beginners Guide" and "Snakes and Lizards in Your Pocket: A Guide to Reptiles of the Upper Midwest" -- will become available April 1, from the University of Iowa Press.

"Iowa Farm in Your Pocket," by University Relations photographer Kirk Murray, provides an illustrated introduction to the images and activities of contemporary agricultural life.

Newcomers to Iowa are always amazed at the yearly changes in the heights of fields. The landscape expands from ground level to ten feet tall and back again every year: from frozen bare ground in winter to light green sprouts in late spring to dark green corn in late summer to acre upon acre of dry cornstalks at harvest time. Slow and unwieldy machines take up more than their share of the roads, clouds of black or yellow dust cover the fields in spring and fall, pigs (or are they hogs?) in various colors look out from fences, huge tractors with complicated add-ons lumber through the fields, shiny silos linked with tentacles tower above tidy white farmhouses dwarfed by huge red barns.

What are the names of all these animals and crops and buildings and machines? As an introduction to the practical magic of Iowa farmscapes, 'Iowa Farm in Your Pocket' won't tell you everything you should know to be a true Iowan, but it will tell you enough that you can survive a day at the state fair without embarrassing yourself.

With eighty full-color photographs of the most common animals, activities, crops and buildings that you can expect to see whenever you pass a family farmstead, Iowa Farm in Your Pocket will be a treat for all newcomers to a state where corn and beans and hogs rule, for both urban and rural children and their parents, and for all those who want to revisit memories of growing up on a farm.

Lennis Moore, CEO of Midwest Old Threshers in Mount Pleasant, commented, "I was very pleased to see the images for Iowa Farm in Your Pocket. I think that the guide illustrates an excellent overview of farm life in Iowa. Plus, it will provide individuals who have not grown up on the farm with a visual taste of farm life. I grew up in Iowa and have lived in the state my entire life, and I fall into the trap where I think that all Iowans know about life on the farm.

"Obviously, I need to realize that Iowa is fast becoming a state where (like others) an ever-increasing portion of our population lives an urban life. Iowa Farm in Your Pocket will provide a wonderful introduction to modern life on the working farm."

Murray is a photojournalist for University Relations at the UI. Winner of the A. W. Lee Award and an Addy Silver Award, he has also won awards from the Iowa Press Photographers Association and has taught photojournalism and visual communications at the UI.

"Snakes and Lizards in Your Pocket," with text by Terry VanDeWalle and photographs by Suzanne L. Collins, informs both amateur and professional herpetologists about twenty-seven species of snakes and six species of lizards in the Upper Midwest states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.

It provides a complete description of each species, both adult and young, as well as distinguishing characteristics for thirty-two subspecies of snakes and two subspecies of lizards.

VanDeWalle has been researching reptiles and amphibians in the Midwest for almost 20 years. He is a principal scientist for Natural Resources Consulting, Inc., in Independence, Iowa. Collins is an executive officer of the Center for North American Herpetology.

The books are available at bookstores or directly from the press, 800-621-2736 or Customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East or Africa may order from Eurospan Group at It is also available as a pdf e-book:

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Allison Means, UI Press, Winston Barclay, University News Services, 319-430-1013,