Conservation Efforts

By UMRI's Outreach Coordinator, Christine Curry and Iowa's Conservation Director, Mike Delaney, and other Iowa Izaak Walton League chapter members

“It Is In Our Hands”, photo by Christine Curry


Our Vision— Soul. Soil. Spark.

Our Vision— Soul. Soil. Spark. November 2021


November highlights—


Iowa Spark Banquet— November 17th 2021 at the IWL’s Des Moines Chapter House. Photo by Curtis Cokeley


During this past year, IWL’s Iowa Conservation Director Mike Delaney ignited the “Sparks”, a special group of long-term conservationists (which he refers to as the Elders) to craft an Iowa vision and strategy.  They teamed up with Drake University and the Izaak Walton League’s Panora Conservation Chapter to showcase their work on November 17, 2021 as they rolled out their Soul. Soil. Spark. vision at two events:

At the Drake Soil Conference 2021 with Sparks… Neil Hamilton and Pat Boddy. Photo by: Chris Henning


— Drake University’s Soil 2021 Conference. “Our Soils: Our Future” brought together leading farmers, landowners, conservationists, local officials and others interested in the future of Iowa’s land and water. To learn more click here!


Pulitzer Prize Winner of the Storm Lake Times— Art Cullen energized the crowd with his honest and witty humor. Photo by Caroline van Schaik


—Panora Conservation Chapter of the IWL hosted close to 300 attendees at the Spark Iowa Banquet, which also was a benefit dinner for UMRI.  The evening’s event was the icing on the cake after a full day of truth, presentations and discussions at Drake’s Soil conference.  Pulitzer Prize Winner of the Storm Lake Times,

Art Cullen energized the crowd with his honest and witty humor.  The recent release of the Storm Lake documentary notably depicts the importance of community journalism.


Christine Curry thanks Art Cullen with a jar of cashews which he quickly re-gifts it to his son Tom. You must see Storm Lake the movie to appreciate this moment! Photo by: Caroline van Schaik


—This was truly an inspiring day filled with hope and exploration of a critical course correction in how we treat our soil, water and each other.  For further highlights, check out UMRI’s MN Driftless Coordinator, Caroline van Schaik’s reflections!


IWL’s Iowa Conservation Director, Spark Ignitor— Mike Delaney in motion. Photo by: Bud Hartley


—Gratitude to all involved in making the Spark Iowa Banquet a success… Special thanks to the Izaak Walton League chapter members: Mike Delaney— IWL’s Iowa Conservation Director, Bud Hartley— DSM Chapter Communications Director, Doug Pooch— IWL’s DSM Chapter President, Steve Roe— Panora Conservation Chapter President, Christine Curry—DSM Chapter Secretary and Carolyn Berndt—DSM Chapter Manager


Hunter Slifka and Neil Shaffer were presented a National Izaak Walton League of America 2021 Honor Roll Award by National President Vicki Arnold during the Spark Iowa Banquet in Des Moines. This was in recognition of their outstanding work performed in the fields of conservation, public information and publicity. Photo by: Caroline van Schaik


—Special IWL Guests included:  Dave Zentner— Executive Director of UMRI, Vicki Arnold— National President and her husband Bill Arnold, Duane Hovorka— National Agriculture Director, Emily Rodriguez—Agriculture Outreach Coordinator and Caroline van Schaik— UMRI MN’s Driftless Area Coordinator and the Iowa Division Board members: Rick Cerwick, Craig and Ann Enneking, Marj and Marion Striegel and Jack Johnson


We were honored to have UMRI’s Project Director, David Zentner, share his stories and history of his dedication to preserving and protecting the Upper Mississippi River at the Des Moines Chapter House ~ November 16th, 2021. David spent his childhood along the Mississippi River and has an avid interest in farmland conservation. A retired insurance and financial planner living in Duluth, Minnesota, Dave has served as the Izaak Walton League chapter, state, and national president and chair of the national executive board. Honorary doctorates from the University of Minnesota and Northland College, the IWL’s 54 Founders Award, and Outdoor Life magazine’s Conservationist of the Year award recognize his conservation work. Photo by: Christine Curry


Graphics by: Mindy Alvarez

Graphics by: Mindy Alvarez

Graphics by: Mindy Alvarez

Graphics by: Mindy Alvarez

More snaps—


Spark Iowa Banquet dinner catered by IWL’s Des Moines Chapter House Manager, Carolyn Berndt. Photo by: Bud Hartley

Spark Bob Riley reading a “climate action” request letter from a Johnston City 1st grader. He also summarized Dr. Cornelia Butler Flora’s 7 Capitals model, the premise of Soul. Soil. Spark. Photo by: Bud Hartley

KCCI’s Meteorologist Chris Gloninger and his wife, Cathy were featured at one of the Spark tables. Photo by: Bud Hartley

Dr. Cornelia Butler Flora’s shares the details of her 7 Capitals model, the premise of Soul. Soil. Spark. Photo by: Bud Hartley

Iowa Environmental Council’s Executive Director, Brian Campbell and Des Moines Water Works CEO, Ted Corrigan. Photo by: Bud Hartley

Susan Heathcote featured with Art Cullen. Photo by: Bud Hartley

#22 Storm Lake Books. Photo by: Bud Hartley

Art Cullen. Photo by: Curtis Cokeley

Learn more—


To help celebrate celebrate the Izaak Walton Leagues’ 100th anniversary in 2022, The Des Moines Chapter is heading up an effort to expand the Izaak Walton League’s SOS (Save our Streams) program throughout Iowa.  This is the only nationwide program training volunteers to protect waterways from pollution and to bring information about water quality to their communities.

The IWL’s history: At the turn of the 20th century, uncontrolled discharges of industrial waste and raw sewage, unrestricted logging, and soil erosion threatened to destroy the nation’s most productive waterways. The country’s forests, wetlands, and wilderness areas were quickly disappearing. In 1922, 54 sportsmen declared that it was “time to call a halt” to this destruction. Aware that action – not just talk – would be necessary to solve these problems, the group decided to form an organization to combat water pollution and protect the country’s woods and wildlife. As a reminder of their purpose, they named the organization after Izaak Walton, the 17th-century English angler-conservationist who wrote the literary classic The Compleat Angler.

“Defenders of Soil, Air, Woods, Waters & Wildlife”

Continue to Stay Safe and Stay Engaged…

Save our Streams—On-line training to become a certified Izaak Walton League’s Save Our Stream monitor

Click Here to learn more about Save Bloody Run!

Stay tuned for  2022 “Thinking Like a Watershed” program details…

Links to 2021 presentations are here:

This is the video link: “Heartland Heroines” Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Robin Moore & Denise O’Brien— June 1, 2021

This is the video link: “Planting Seeds to Grow Vibrant Communities” Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Chris Deal & Art Cullen— May 4, 2021  
How Jefferson, Iowa’s Chris Deal is working with California Rep. Ro Khanna and others to grow vibrant rural communities in the Heartland with perspectives from Pulitzer Prize—winning journalist and editor of The Storm Lake Times, Art Cullen.

This is the video link “Watershed Bridges— Green to Blue”: Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Vicki Nichols Goldstein & Seth Watkins— April 6, 2021  How improving soil health and water quality in Iowa and other inland states benefit watersheds that provide critical services from land to sea.

—This is the video link “Local Heroes in Howard County”: Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Neil Shaffer & Hunter Slifka— March 2, 2021  How they have incorporated several thousand acres of land under conservation programs–the largest percentage in Iowa.

This is the video link “The Accidental Conservationist”: Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Wayne Fredericks— February 2, 2021  How an Iowa Farmer is Improving Natural Capital while Increasing Profits with Conservationist and Farmer, Wayne Fredericks from Mitchell County, Iowa.

— Izaak Walton League’s Outdoor America articles on line. 

—About water quality monitoring and research, check out The University of Iowa’s Chris Jones blog who has published several articles on where Iowa stands with regards to soil health and water quality.

—Wait no longer to watch, re-watch and share PFI’s full-length film, “Livestock on the Land“. Please help us get this to as many viewers as possible – farmers, eaters, citizens and policymakers.

Iowa Farmers Union Events, check out their amazing weekly webinars…

Iowa Environmental Council’s Event page is packed with fabulous opportunities to learn more from their organization and others.