Alfstad teams up for local podcast about Iowa’s natural hidden gems

A special nature-made podcast for every walk of life to enjoy, co-hosted by a very familiar name to Montgomery County residents, is currently available for listeners on iHeart radio and other platforms.
The podcast, known as “Crossing Streams,” features Montgomery County Conservation naturalist Cassandra Alfstad, under the name “Critter Cass” and Tony Vorwald, under the name “Tallgrass Tony,” Vorwald is a naturalist at Hurstville Interpretive Center in Maquoketa in Jackson County. The podcast, which started with a pilot on Feb. 2, was conceived in part from an idea from Alfstad.
“Tony and I met at an Iowa Association of Naturalists summer conference in Minnesota, and we were sitting around the campfire and I mentioned the idea. At the end of the night, when we were all sort of going our separate ways, Tony stuck around and was asking me more questions about it and offered to help me get started and said he’d be willing to talk with me if I wanted. At that point, that was what I really needed: a co-host,” Alfstad said.
Vorwald said he was a fan of podcasts, and being able to co-host “Crossing Streams” was a culmination of his own goal, starting a podcast himself.
“While I thought of doing my own podcast of my own over the years, but I never did it. When Cassandra started talking about it, it clicked. It’s more her idea than mine, but it sounded fun and I definitely glommed onto it,” Vorwald said.
Being able to have Vorwald as a co-host, Alfstad said, made putting the podcast together a much more attainable goal.
“The reason I didn’t do anything sooner was because I felt just me talking, with inconsistent guests, wouldn’t be as grasping to an audience as a podcast with two hosts who can talk to each other as well as guests. Tony and I use Zoom, so we can see each other on camera and talk to each other, and when we welcome guests on, it just helps keep the flow going,” advised Alfstad.
Another thing that makes the process trickier is the fact that Alfstad and Vorwald are in different counties and aren’t physically in the same room when recording.
“Zoom is super helpful in allowing us to have these conversations. When it comes to putting everything together, my father, Dave Alfstad, has been a major help. Growing up, he had a recording studio in his basement, and he is a musician, and he is fantastic with audio editing and recording, and has become our producer and audio editor,” Alfstad explained. “My dad helps bridge the gap between our respective distances and helps figure out good audio quality and recording quality, and we’re having Zoom sessions with him to figure out how to streamline the audio quality even more so it sounds like we’re truly recording in person together. Dad was also able to equip me with some pretty nice recording equipment, so in my at-home set-up, I’m not just recording it onto my computer, I’m going through an actual podcast recording device that is hooked up to two microphones.”
Alfstad added that the podcast is the first of its kind, not only for the Montgomery County Conservation area, but for the county in general, saying she’s not met anyone else who has done something like this in the county. Vorwald said it was the first of his kind for Jackson County as well.

“As far as a conservation-style podcast through our department, it hasn’t been done before. As far as in Jackson County as a whole, I’m sure someone has done a podcast or tried to at some point and time, but I’m not currently aware of one going on right now, and definitely not one that is nature-oriented,” commented Vorwald.
One of the goals of the podcast, Alfstad said, is to highlight Iowa’s conservation system as a whole, and the hidden gems.
“It’s not exclusively limited to Montgomery County or Jackson County. We’ve been highlighting parks and wildlife areas from all over the place, and showing there’s much more to Iowa than just crops and fields,” Alfstad said.
The pilot episode focused on an introduction to Alfstad and Vorwald, and how they became naturalists and their roles. The second episode featured comments from Savannah Maiers from Osprey Wilds Environmental Learning Center in Minnesota, and the March 3 episode focused on the affordability of outdoor adventures, and equipment needed for fishing, kayaking, and camping/ backpacking. Vorwald said they have plenty of ideas for future episodes as well.
“One of the topics we want to hit on is prescribed fire and its use as a management tool on conservation land in Iowa. Other ones could be planting native prairie in urban landscaping as a garden to help out pollinators. We’re also looking at topics such as trips and experiences people have had. The list is ever growing of future topics for future episodes,” Vorwald explained.
Alfstad added they are also open to ideas and involvement from those that listen to the podcast or love the outdoors.
“We’re open to any ideas. We can be reached at What we’re working for with our podcast is that even if people aren’t involved in conservation at all, it will still be a fun thing to tune in and listen to,” stated Alfstad. “Tony and I try to keep it pretty casual when we talk, and if we use some lingo that people might not be familiar with, we’re pretty good with tying back and explaining what that is so anyone can hop into the field of conservation.”
Vorwald agreed, saying he himself enjoys podcast that are very conversational, like a conversation between friends, rather than extremely technical, so it can be enjoyed by a broader audience.
With multiple episodes now in the can, Alfstad said she’s been getting praise for the quality of the podcasts.
“I’ve heard from people I know in some social aspect, and teachers who have listened to it, and they’ve all said they enjoyed it and it was fun listening to us talk,” said Alfstad.
As for people he’s spoken to in Jackson County and the surrounding area, Vorwald said he’s heard similar praise.
“A lot of people I’ve talked to are very encouraging and enthusiastic about this endeavor. My director found out about the podcast and listened to it without me even telling him I was doing it, so that was interesting. Everything so far has been positive. I once heard it said that you don’t get your handle on being in a podcast until you’ve done around 100 episodes. I’m not sure how true that is or isn’t, but I’m excited to see, through time and as we continue on, how our flow changes and our audio gets better, and how our little nuances and techniques improve as we get further and further experienced with doing it,” Vorwald said.
Alfstad said she sees the podcast being something that she and Vorwald do for a very long time, as it’s not time-consuming. Vorwald also saw a long-term future for the podcast.
“I think it’s awesome, and I don’t see why this couldn’t be a long-term project that lasts for who knows how long. I don’t want to put an end date on it,” Vorwald stated.
Currently, the show is recorded and published twice per month, though Alfstad said she would like to expand to having a new episode drop once per week on Thursdays. Vorwald also said he’s shooting for an episode once a week.
The crossing streams podcast is available on almost all streaming platforms except for Apple podcasts, including,, and
Alfstad said they also have an instagram account, thecrossingstreamspodcast/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y%3D.

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