Iowans get to know Turin Prairie

This is yours now, Iowa. Get outside and enjoy it.

Turin Prairie in Monona County

Turin Prairie in Monona County

More than 75 people gathered Saturday to help dedicate Turin Prairie in the Loess Hills of Monona County. A project years in the making was opened to the public on National Public Lands Day, as ownership and management of Turin Prairie was turned over from Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Continue reading

Winter volunteer day at Razor Prairie

looking-SE-1024x768Al and Mary Razor loved their land. The 24-acre partial woodland, oak savanna and prairie parcel was their everything. And in 2001, with their health on the decline, the Razors decided to permanently protect their land and donate it to INHF.

Help us honor Al and Mary’s legacy with a brush clear at Razor Prairie in Jasper County. Continue reading

Gifts from new INHF donors matched by Principal Financial Group Foundation


Volunteers from Principal Financial Group volunteer at Lone Tree Point on Clear Lake, an INHF project.

Thank you to The Principal Financial Group Foundation, which has just renewed its support for the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Their $25,000 unrestricted grant serves as a challenge grant for new members. Every time a new member donates to INHF, their gift is matched by The Principal Financial Group Foundation.

This isn’t the first time Principal has supported INHF. In fact, they’ve contributed consistently ever since INHF was formed and they’ve been matching new gifts to INHF for many years. Through their generosity they have encouraged Iowans to join in our mission, helping to create a stable and growing membership that had made INHF ever stronger and more effective over time. Continue reading

Corporate companies partner with INHF

Corporate philanthropy programs are doing remarkable things to create positive impact for Iowa’s land, water and wildlife. They’re influencing the present as well as the future, and doing so with great enthusiasm.


A Nationwide employee smiles during a humid summer day brush collection.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR), though not a new initiative, has gained significance in recent years. According to Forbes, companies are now competing “based on who has the best CSR strategy and who makes their employees feel good on a community service level.” High CSR standards have become a priority in many company cultures, and non-profits are expanding and achieving at greater capacities.

INHF has experienced the impact of these conscience–forward companies both through financial and “hands-on” giving, as companies offer their employees paid time off for volunteering. Continue reading

Seed harvesting by moonlight

On Oct. 24, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and the Polk County Conservation Board hosted their first ever moonlight seed harvest. On a slightly spooky night, the nearly-full moon peaked out of the clouds, leaving only dancing headlamps visible (and seeds, of course).

About 25 volunteers and a few Boy Scout troops came out to Chichaqua Bottoms, armed with headlamps and glow sticks. The group was ready to collect roundhead bush clover by moonlight.


At the end of the night volunteers were treated to a cozy bonfire, complete with s’mores and apple cider.

It was a great event for children and adults alike, and INHF hopes to host more night harvests. “It was a first-of-its-kind event for us,” said Mary Runkel, INHF volunteer coordinator. “The event seemed appropriate for the time of year, and it was a fun way to get kids onto the prairie and learn about species and the prairie habitat.”

Look for more volunteer opportunities on our website, and stay up to date by checking our volunteer schedule!


RBC Wealth Management Helps Harvest Seeds in Polk County

Snyder Seeds Harvested

Pictured: golden alexander, partridge pea, coreopsis, cream gentian, showy tick trefoil, and rattlesnake master

Twenty-two RBC Wealth Management employees with their children volunteered with Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) on Saturday, Sept. 19 on Snyder Heritage Farm in Polk County. Volunteers spent the day harvesting prairie seeds in order to restore and expand other protected landscapes. Seed from Snyder is often used to diversify and plant other prairies in the region.

The species harvested included cream gentian, partridge pea, golden alexander, and several others.

“It was really the perfect morning,” Mary Runkel, INHF’s volunteer coordinator, recalled. “There was a light breeze and you had to hike through some mud and tall grass to get to the prairie.” Continue reading

Principal Employees Give Back to the Land

Principal Volunteers

Seventeen Principal Financial Group employees, alongside 13 others, volunteered with Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) on Friday Sept. 18 in Lone Tree Point to cut honeysuckle to restore an oak savanna.

Before clearing

Before volunteers cleared the oak woods

“This was the second year Principal employees have helped at Lone Tree Point,” said Mary Runkel, INHF volunteer coordinator. “We got to see where the group worked last year and the progress we’ve made” on clearing honeysuckle.

While clearing the invasives, one volunteer discovered an oak tree sapling. “All of the sudden we saw this little baby oak and everyone was determined to clear around it. I hope we come back next year and see its growth,” said Runkel.

After clearing

After volunteers cleared the oak woods

Jan Lovell, INHF Board of Directors Chair, owns the Lone Tree Point Nature Area. The 101-acre woods are located on the south shore of Clear Lake and are protected by a conservation easement.

“The area and adjoining restored prairie help improve Clear Lake’s water quality as well as provide scarce wildlife habitat for bald eagles, herons and deer,” Lovell said. The land has been under her family’s protection for over two decades.

The Lovell family also helped Principal volunteers remove honeysuckle that day. “It was definitely a partnership day,” Runkel said.

The Lone Tree Point clearing volunteer event is Principal’s fourth workday with INHF and their second in Mason City.

If you or your organization is interested in volunteer opportunities through INHF, contact Mary Runkel at 515-288-1846 or


Fall Volunteering Events

Want to get involved? Check out these upcoming INHF volunteering opportunities. Please wear long pants and sturdy, closed-toed shoes. No experience necessary!

Saturday, Sept. 26

Scenic Views and a Seed HarvestDSC_3227_4x6

Help hand-pick seeds from the prairie while checking out the beautiful views in Northeast Iowa’s Heritage Valley.9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Perkins Prairie Reserve

Come to hear the history of the Perkin’s Prairie in Greene County, and stay to help hand-pick seeds. 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Friday, October 2. 

Meet us at Mathes

Join us just outside of Pella at the Mathes property. We will be harvesting seeds and removing invasive vegetation. 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday, October 3. 

Seeds and Cider

Spend the afternoon picking seeds and learning about the historic Marietta Sand Prairie–then round out the day with a hot cup of cider. We are offering a coach from Des Moines to the work site for this event. Reserve a bus seat with Mary Runkel at 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Get more information about these events and stay up to date on volunteer opportunities at



10 years later, Marietta becomes whole

Patrick in the Indian Grass (2)

Join INHF at the Marietta Sand Prairie on October 3 from 1-4 p.m. to harvest prairie seed, hear the story of this project and drink cider! Volunteers will hand-pick seed to be redistributed throughout the preserve.

The preserve was established in 1984 when 17 acres of native prairie was purchased by Marshall County Conservation. In 2006, 212 more acres were added to the preserve, including 56 acres of sand prairie remnant.

Restoration efforts for the prairie began a decade ago, and with this seed harvest, INHF celebrates connecting the preserve with prairie remnants. This seed harvest completes our original vision: To preserve this rare prairie legacy, and to create an extensive interior grassland habitat for songbirds, pheasants and so many other species. Continue reading

From Iowa to Montana

Snyder burn1

This week, INHF Land Stewardship Specialist Ryan Schmidt was called to western Montana to battle wildfires blazing in the state. Ryan completed National Wildland Fire Academy training in 2013, taking online courses and in-person sessions in Iowa and Missouri. Interested parties can earn Red Card certification all across the country at local training centers to become wildfire certified. Iowa is in the Eastern/Great Rivers Region.

This is the first time he’s been called to duty for the US Forest Service, but Ryan is no stranger to fire. As one-fourth of the Stewardship team, he manages INHF’s burn program, creating burn plans for INHF and partner properties throughout the spring season. In Iowa and other prairie states, fire is used as a management tool to create healthy habitat and ensure the diversity of prairies.

A dedicated conservationist, fighting wildfires has always been a dream for Ryan. “It’s something that’s been in my heart for a long time. I’m excited to see the action,” he said.

He’ll be working with a hand crew of 19 other conservation employees and firefighters from Iowa and Missouri. The 14-day shift will be located near Missoula, MT, stretching to Glacier National Park.

“Ryan will learn fire management skills in Montana that he’ll be able to bring back to Iowa and apply to his work with INHF,” said Joe McGovern, INHF president.

Melanie Louis, INHF land stewardship assistant, is also Red Card certified.

Please join us in wishing Ryan good luck and a safe journey!