About Kerri

Kerri Sorrell is the Digital Outreach Assistant at Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

Apply Now: Mark C. Ackelson Fellowship

Do you have a heart for activism as well as for Iowa’s land, water, wildlife and people? Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is looking for a dedicated conservationist to work with us on a temporary assignment to promote increased, reliable, consistent state funding for Iowa conservation.

The goal
INHF is part of a statewide coalition working together to secure legislative approval for funding of the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. This Trust Fund was established through an amendment to the Iowa Constitution, and it will be funded the next time the Iowa sales tax is increased. If successful, these efforts will direct an estimated $180 million annually toward natural resource needs including clean water, healthy productive soils, abundant wildlife and increasing outdoor recreation opportunities throughout Iowa.

This fellowship offers amazing networking opportunities with Iowa conservation leaders through the Iowa’s Water & Land Legacy Coalition. The Ackelson Fellow will gain experience in grassroots and field advocacy as well as outreach to well-connected conservationists, and will be helping to shape strategies for legislative action. The Fellow will travel within Iowa, report to the INHF president, and work closely with the INHF policy director, communications staff and other INHF staff.

Position responsibilities
The Fellow will work with staff and coalition members to help develop and implement the strategy to get the sales tax increase and the Trust Fund funded. They will help organize, educate, empower and mobilize supporters to take action in support of our goal. List-building, outreach, volunteer recruitment, canvassing by phone or door-to-door and online networking may all be part of this position at different points in the campaign. Successful candidates will have excellent verbal and written communication skills and strong interpersonal skills in order to communicate with and engage differing stakeholder groups.

The ideal candidate

Will have demonstrated success in coordinating political and/or community campaigns and building strategic coalitions to influence public policy; possesses the ability to work independently and execute statewide political/community programs; acts with high integrity and professionalism; is detail oriented; is able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment and is willing and able to work nights or weekends on occasion.

This full-time fellowship will be active between November 2016 (post-election) and May 2017 with some flexibility in start/end dates. Monthly stipend and travel expenses are provided. Benefits are not included in this temporary position.

To apply
Deadline: October, 17, 2016. Please send cover letter and resume to Marian Riggs, INHF policy director, at mriggs@inhf.org. Questions can be directed to Marian Riggs at 515-288-1846, ext. 26.

Introducing Sarah LeBlanc, INHF’s new communications intern

img_1378Hi there!

My name is Sarah LeBlanc and I’m thrilled to be the new communications intern for INHF. I’m in my last year at Drake University studying journalism and politics, and I’m originally from Madison, Wisconsin but have come to call Des Moines my home away from home.

When I have down time, you can typically find me binge watching the latest Netflix original series, running outside or reading a book. My sweet tooth also leads me to find the best ice cream and candy shops in Des Moines.

As a communications intern, I’ll be writing for INHF’s magazine, typing up press releases, blogging and a little bit of everything else in between. I’m excited to join the team here and learn more about what makes Iowa so beautiful.

If you want to get in touch with me, give me a shout at commintern@inhf.org or on Twitter: @sarahleblanc201.

Bringing wildness back to Clear Lake

Pre-settlement, the Clear Lake area was a wildlife haven. Now in one of the most popular tourism spots in the state, INHF is helping to restore a measure of wildness.

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Restoration on the Pedelty property, a former golf course, will see restored wetland, prairie and savanna and will benefit the area’s many bird and non-game species. Photo by Ross Baxter, INHF

Early accounts of Clear Lake, a spring-fed lake with origins in the last glacial period, tell of its use as a favorite summer camping ground of the Sioux and Winnebago peoples. By the mid-1800s, tales of the beautiful lake with plentiful fish and wildlife had captured the attention and imagination of Euro-American settlers. In short order, what had been a wild and vast wetland-pocked prairie ecosystem, replete with a dizzying array of native plants and animals, was being domesticated. Continue reading

A Great Place Made Better

How much can 15 people accomplish on 175 acres in under two hours?

A lot, it turns out.

I was amazed at the giant oak and maple and sycamore trees!

I was amazed at the giant oak, maple and sycamore trees!

On Tuesday evening, April 26, volunteers from Kohls, Outdoor Alliance of Story County and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation joined Story County Conservation to improve a site just south of Ames that’s destined to become the Ronald “Dick” Jordan Family Wildlife Area.

So this was our chance to experience the natural land where the Skunk River used to flow.

It’s not open to the public yet: INHF will transfer it to Story County after funds are raised to cover its purchase and restoration.

Some of us cut invasive plant species: mostly honeysuckle and multi-flora rose. Compared to many Iowa woodlands, there wasn’t much to cut. It felt good knowing we were keeping them from spreading and shading out the wildflowers – like the Sweet William that was in bloom all around us.

Here’s how we looked: before, during, and after attacking the multi-flora rose:

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Meanwhile, volunteers were removing the tires and scrap metal that dotted the area – many of which had been left behind by floodwaters over time or illegally dumped.

Jordan - heavy metal crew

Jordan - tire crew

In just two hours, Team Heavy Metal and Team Burnt Rubber hauled out a full truck of tires and a full trailer of metal – nearly all the clean-up that’s needed here!

 

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As darkness headed our way, we enjoyed a Victory Photo and went home dirtier, stronger and refreshed by our time in nature.

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UntitledI’m looking forward to my next visit – to walk where the river used to run.

 

Want to help the effort?

Learn more about Jordan Family Wildlife Area

Donate now to the project

Learn more about volunteering with INHF

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Calendar photography submissions

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Iowa is a photographer’s dream: stunning landscapes, remarkable wildlife and spectacular natural moments. Every year, INHF celebrates this beauty in a nature calendar. We love highlighting the best of what Iowa has to offer and seeing our great state through your eyes—and lens.

We are now accepting submissions for the 2017 calendar.

If you’re interested in submitting photos for consideration before the July 1 deadline, you’ll find helpful resources on our website for more information. Also make sure to review our general photo submission guidelines. Questions should be directed to Kerri Sorrell at ksorrell@inhf.org or 515-288-1846, ext. 24.

Gift to Iowa’s Future Day celebrates Iowa landowners

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On Thursday, March 24, a group of Iowa landowners were honored at the state capitol building for gifts of conservation land, land value and conservation easements made in 2015. “Gift To Iowa’s Future” day is an annual celebration of private landowners and organizations who protect their land for natural resources and recreation opportunities. 2015 gifts totaled more than $10 million and protected over 4,500 acres in 15 counties.

16 of the 23 landowners honored worked in partnership with Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to protect their land.

“Private landowners are instrumental in protecting Iowa’s land, water and wildlife,” said INHF President Joe McGovern. “Gift to Iowa’s Future Day is a chance for us to celebrate the generous contributions individual Iowans make to conservation each year. It is truly humbling to see the impact of these gifts across the state.”
Continue reading

Environmental Lobby Day: Let Your Voice Be Heard

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Join INHF & representatives from environmental groups across the state at the Iowa State Capitol building on Tues., March 22 to advocate for Iowa’s land, water and wildlife. Iowans will have the chance to speak to legislators about why Iowa’s natural resources are vital to the state, its residents and its economy.

Event details:

WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL LOBBY DAY?
Each year, organizations and individuals from across the state come together at the Capitol to speak with legislators about the importance of protecting and preserving Iowa’s natural resources at Environmental Lobby Day and REAP Day at the Capitol. Speaking face-to-face with legislators and showing that there is a broad base of support for a healthy environment is one of the most important ways to help advance programs and policies that protect Iowa’s water, land and air. Continue reading

Two new nature areas for Story County

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We recently announced the opportunity to create two new nature areas in Story County. A public presentation on March 22 by INHF President Joe McGovern introduced the public to efforts to establish the new Carroll Prairie and the Ronald “Dick” Jordan Family Wildlife Area.

“While the majority of the funding for both these new areas is expected to come from competitive public grants, private contributions will also be needed for both projects,” said McGovern.

Continue reading

Full steam ahead: 2016 legislative session update

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The legislative session is off and running and, as is usually the case, the budget will be the defining issue of the session. The budget will drive the debate around the significant issues decided by the legislature; from education to Medicaid to the environment.

Governor Branstad kicked off the legislative session with a proposal to address Iowa’s water quality concerns. His plan involves using money from the state-wide one-cent sales tax for school infrastructure, called the Secured and Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE), to fund projects and initiatives outlined in Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The bill to accomplish this was recently released, HSB 601.

It is refreshing to hear the Governor acknowledge that we have a serious water quality problem that will require significant public and private investments to address. The good news is that the dialogue has begun and there is a lot of conversation about water quality at the Capitol. The challenging news is that his proposal could impact our friends in education and it only addresses nutrient reduction and no other natural resource concerns. Beyond that, under the Governor’s proposal, significant dollars are not allocated towards water quality until well into the future. The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be to accomplish our water quality goals. We need to address this issue now, with a funding source that is immediate, substantial and permanent.  Continue reading