Meet our members: Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

posted on Thursday, December 3, 2015

Meet our Members - Iowa Natural Heritage FoundationWelcome to the fourth entry of Meet Our Members, our series that introduces readers to our member organizations, and shares information about how they are creating a safer, healthier and more sustainable Iowa. Today, we're pleased to feature the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF), a long-standing member of the Iowa Environmental Council, protects and restores Iowa’s natural landscapes, improving and connecting habitats for wildlife and water management.

INHF was the first Iowa land trust to receive national accreditation, and over its 36 years of stewardship, INHF has shepherded the success of more than 1,000 projects and protected more than 140,000 acres. Mines of Spain, conservation easement provisions in the 1985 Farm Bill, the launch of Trees Forever, the Iowa By Trail app and the High Trestle Trail are just a few of the programs and projects INHF has inspired or been closely involved with. They also had a large role in the development of Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection program, which has been in action for over 25 years, providing funding for projects and program in every Iowa county.

“(INHF President Emeritus) Mark Ackelson as well as a handful of other people from INHF were instrumental in starting REAP Alliance,” said Director of Communications Joe Jayjack. “The Alliance has a big hand in promoting the program and making sure it gets the funding it deserves.” The Council is also a REAP Alliance member.

INHF also has a presence at many environmental events around the state, including the recent grand opening of REI in West Des Moines, and a booth at the upcoming Iowa Bike Expo in January.

INHF also provides many volunteer opportunities such as seed harvests, land stewardship volunteer events and trail cleanup days. On an individual basis, people come in and help in the office or outdoors on some of the trails, parks or wildlife areas. To inquire about volunteering with INHF, check out the volunteer page on their website or contact Mary Runkel at

INHF also offers volunteer and professional development opportunities geared specifically towards students and young people.

“We have a great Internship program for students. Most of our internship opportunities start in the summer, though we occasionally have interns that work with us during the school year,” said Jayjack. ”We also host RAVEs – Random Acts of Volunteering for the Earth. These involve spending an hour or two outdoors working and then meeting up afterwards for drinks or dinner.”

INHF has been a valued member organization of the Council for many years, working together in conservation advocacy.

“Everything we do at INHF involves partnerships. So much of what INHF does we couldn’t do without the Council, county conservation boards or even just private land owners. The Council is particularly helpful for our purposes in conservation policy, as a source of knowledge, and an extra voice for us at the Capitol,” Jayjack said.

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