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.

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.”
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9 great conservation projects happening right now

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From trail connections to wetland restoration to important wildlife habitat, INHF
is working on some great projects. With your help, we can protect, restore and connect these places that are so important to Iowa’s natural beauty.

Burr Wildlife Area Addition — This addition of 411 acres to the Burr Wildlife area has many people encouraged. Besides the beauty of the rolling hills, prairie and oak trees, this addition means 600 acres of public land along this corridor will be protected, allowing for increased habitat and water protection.
Support this project

 

BruceMorrison-Oxbow-OtterCreekOtter Creek Wildlife Area Addition — 67-acre property is adjacent to the 275 protected acres of the Otter Creek Wildlife Area in Sioux County Conservation Board ownership and will expand the size of the habitat available to area wildlife. The land will feature restored prairie and wetland areas, prime for wildlife viewing and hunting. Reestablishing native grasses will provide nesting and winter cover for birds.
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Meet Jodi Baker

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Help us give a big, warm welcome to INHF’s new Finance Director, Jodi Baker!

Baker grew up on a rural farm and attended Iowa State University. She graduated with a degree in accounting and then made her way to Des Moines. For the past couple of years she’s been working on her own with temporary contract control jobs, but was eager to get back into the nonprofit world.

In the past, Baker has worked for school districts and has extensive nonprofit experience. When she saw INHF’s mission statement, she wanted to help.

“Honestly,” she said, “when I saw the advertisement it was the mission.” Land and water protection are the things that Baker is most excited about in coming to work for INHF. She says, “I’m ready to do my small part, get used to things, and get in on the ground.”

Welcome to the INHF family, Jodi! We’re excited too!

2016 calendars have arrived!

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Each year, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation releases a calendar that highlights Iowa’s beautiful, natural landscapes. The 2016 calendars have arrived!

The calendar is filled with fun: 60 dates of Iowa events like RAGBRAI and the Iowa State Fair, plus lots of nature events for all ages taking place throughout Iowa. The calendar is always designed by a Robert R. Buckmaster graphic design intern. This years designer is Phong Doung, a Drake University recent graduate.

Calendars are $12 and can be purchased online. Members: Use the discount code “acornlove” for 10% off your order!

If you are one of our 7,000+ members and have given $25 or more this year, you will receive your calendar in the mail soon! Continue reading

Gunderson Nature Park dedication

Join the City of Eldora and INHF for the dedication and celebration of the Gunderson Nature Park, Wednesday Nov. 11th at 1:00 p.m. at the entrance of the park. The park is located directly North of the Hardin County Fair Grounds (east end).

Bob and Mary Lou Gunderson have long been involved with Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and conserving Iowa’s land and water. In 2012, INHF presented the Gundersons with the Hagie Heritage Award, a recognition meant to honor Iowans who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to conservation and improvement of Iowa’s natural environment while encouraging others to do the same.

The couple has committed countless hours to conservation efforts across Iowa with much of their work benefitting Hardin County and its surrounding communities. They were founders of the Iowa River Greenbelt Resource Trust in 1987 and have been actively involved in many other projects.

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Bob and Mary Lou Gunderson receiving the 2012 Hagie Heritage Award

Earlier this year, the Gundersons were also recognized at the Gift to Iowa’s Future Day, an event hosted by the state of Iowa. The celebration is hosted at the capitol to honor individuals, corporations and organizations that permanently protect land for parks, trails, natural areas, fish and wildlife habitat and other benefits.

The Gundersons were honored by the state because of their 12 acre land donation to Eldora, which is the site of the Gunderson Nature Park. The strategic location of Gunderson Nature Park near city streets and neighborhoods brings the park closer to Eldora residents. A trail loop, prairie and savanna reconstruction, butterfly habitat and a nature-scape play area are planned by the City of Eldora now that it has transferred to them from INHF.

“The Gundersons have not only been incredible supporters of our natural resources through their time and financial support, but they have been instrumental in promoting that mentality to those around them,” wrote John Schuller, Iowa River Greenbelt Resource Trust board member.

Iowa’s land and water are truly better off thanks to the Gunderson’s efforts and inspiration. INHF hopes you will join in on the celebration of two conservation champions.

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Making history on Marietta

When settlers came to Iowa, much of the natural wonder of the land was lost to homes and crops. Today, there are few remaining untouched plots left in the state. That was in the 1800s.

The Marietta Sand Prairie State Preserve was one of those plowed landscapes, but some portions survived in their natural state. In 1983-84, a precious 17 acres of native prairie were purchased by Marshall County Conservation and then dedicated as Marietta Sand Prairie State Preserve. Then, in 2004-2006, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Marshall County Conservation led the effort to add 212 acres to Marietta Sand Prairie State Preserve — including nearly 56 acres more of sand prairie remnant. Since 2005, INHF has been working to restore and revitalize the land through countless seed harvests.

And it’s finally paid off. On Saturday, Oct. 3 upwards of forty volunteers came together for INHF’s second-largest workday of the year. INHF members, volunteers, Iowa Prairie Network board members and Marshall County Conservation board officials were all present and eager to help out.

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Volunteers at the Marietta Sand Prairie State Preserve

“We truly could not have been that effective without the volunteers we had that day,” Mary Runkel, INHF volunteer coordinator said.

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Volunteers making apple cider

Workers collected seed to build up the once-plentiful seed bank within the land. Their efforts are extremely important to conservation as INHF works toward restoring this rare remnant sand prairie.

“It’s so important to INHF that we keep the seeds local,” Runkel said. “The seeds from Marietta will stay to grow at Marietta.”

The volunteer group was treated to fresh apple cider made with an apple press on site.

The seeds from this harvest will be sowed later next year, which will mark the final planting and restoration completion. Planting this final portion at last connects the preserve with prairie remnants and completes INHF’s original vision: To preserve this rare prairie legacy, and to create an extensive interior grassland habitat for songbirds, pheasants and so many other species.

 

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INHF, DNR to dedicate the James and Patricia Dinsmore tract at Big Wall Lake

You’re invited! Help dedicate a new 130-acre addition to the Big Wall Lake Wildlife Management Area made possible by James and Patricia Dinsmore’s gift to INHF. The dedication will take place at the site at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15. A reception will follow.DSC_0428

James Dinsmore is a published author (A Country So Full of Game) and former Iowa State animal ecology professor. He and his wife sought to make a gift that matched their interest in wildlife and would also protect some of the Iowa landscape James studied for years. The couple found what they were looking for at Big Wall Lake.

dinsmore dedication mapBig Wall is a shallow, 978-acre lake along a major flyway for migrating waterfowl. The lake was in danger for many years, but  underwent a major restoration in 2006 to remove carp and increase outflow so in-lake plants could grow. In 2012, the lake was removed from the state’s list of impaired waters.

The added acres will eventually transfer to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and become part of a public complex. The next step is to transfer a 341-acre property on the northwest corner of Big Wall. The Dinsmores also contributed to that project, and INHF is currently working to raise the remaining funds.

Event Details:

When: Thursday, Oct. 15, 3 p.m. Reception to follow.

Where: 2551 300th St., Clarion Iowa

RSVP to Erin Griffin, INHF Events Coordinator, at egriffin@inhf.org or 515-288-1846, ext. 11

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Apply Now: INHF Communications Internship

Kerri & Lois - cropped 2Test the waters in all aspects of communications — magazine writing, press releases, photography, social media, websites, blogs and more — with Iowa’s leading natural conservation organization. 

Job description
The communications intern writes news releases and magazine articles about INHF projects, assists with special events (like our annual Hagie Heritage Award), writes blog posts, updates our website and social media, and much more. Depending on organizational needs and intern skills, he/she may also assist with public events, photography and occasional graphic design. Continue reading

Trail Tuesday: Chichaqua Valley Trail

Every Tuesday, look for a new featured trail story on our blog – part of our new “Trail Tuesday” series. This will be a way for you to learn about all the different trails we have to offer on our Iowa By Trail app. If you like what you read you can download the app and go explore! For any questions on these trails, email ibt@inhf.org.

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This week’s featured trail is Chichaqua Valley Trail.

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