Reinvigorating a Native Playscape at Greenwood Elementary

At Greenwood Elementary School in Des Moines, students do not rely on field trips alone to explore Iowa’s native ecosystems–they play among them at recess. In the early 2000s, the school’s outdoor recreation area was on the receiving end of 92,000 gallons of water per inch of rain. Even minor storms etched small gullies across […]

Landowner, Electric Utility, and County Conservation Partner in Oak Savanna Restoration

It started ordinarily enough, with a call from regional transmission utility ITC Midwest. The trees on Paul Hertz’s farm near Nevada, Iowa were growing close to the electric line, and it was time to prune back the branches.  In the long, narrow four and a half acre strip of land beneath the transmission lines, an […]

Following Pasture Transformation, Wildflowers and Monarch Butterflies Make a Comeback

When Nathan and Sarah Anderson decided to switch to a rotational grazing system, it was mainly a financial decision. “We wanted to improve returns to our cow herd and our land base,” said Nathan. They did not know it then, but changing grazing practices would have a dramatic impact on far more than their bottom […]

Growing Chestnuts, Using Swales to Capture and Redirect Rainfall

After 30 years of living and working in Dallas, LuAnn and Tony Colosimo were ready for a change. “We examined our options, read a lot of books–probably hundreds–on retirement, how to live simply and sustainably, and how to change your business career to something you control yourself,” said LuAnn. In 2015, they finally made their […]

Restoring Ecological History in Humboldt County

Just outside of the small, north-central Iowa town of Dakota City, the Humboldt County Historical Museum has curated a stunning collection of items from the 1870s-1960s. Full-size buildings such as a log cabin, one-room schoolhouse, jail, farmstead, and the remains of a gristmill give visitors a three dimensional look into the lives of the first […]

Cultivating a Thriving, Walkable Woodland that Will Endure for Generations

In the fall of 2016, Ione Cleverley had been reflecting on her 50 years of land ownership and knew it was time to take action. Although her woodland management practices remained the same, the ecology of the woodland was changing–and not for the better. “The timber ground was in sad shape–the multiflora roses had increased […]

Farm Manager Connects Clients with Conservation Opportunities

Janet and Richard Andre wanted to do something about the monarchs. Continent-wide, this butterfly’s population has fallen by 80% in just 30 years. As owners of a family farm near McCallsburg, they had a place to provide food and habitat to this species in distress. Their farm manager, Tim Pick, of Hertz Farm Management in […]

Preventing Palmer Amaranth in Prairie Reconstructions

In 2016, the “super weed” Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) made headlines when it appeared in conservation plantings in dozens of Iowa counties. This was not the first time the noxious weed had appeared in Iowa. Palmer amaranth infestations first arrived in 2013, brought in by crop production materials and equipment. The speed at which the […]

Tagtows Reconstruct Iowa’s Ecological Legacy with Native Wetland, Trees, Prairie

  It was 1994, and Kelly and Angie could not wait to get out of the city. They had both grown up in the country, and after spending the first few years of their marriage living in Ankeny, they jumped at the opportunity to purchase twelve acres near Elkhart. Kelly remembers, “A small corner of […]

Restoring Family Farm Diversity with Organic Crops, Prairie, and Wetlands

Since the Lehman family purchased their farm in 1869, there has been a dramatic change in the landscape near Alleman, Iowa. The rich, flat fields in the center of Iowa once supported dairy and beef cattle, chickens, sheep, pigs, and work horses, and the forages (such as alfalfa), oats, wheat, and corn that fed them. […]