Conservation Efforts

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

Iowa Conservation Director, Mike Delaney shares his enthusiasm for prairies with Mark Dorhout’s 7th graders at Panorama Middle School, Panora, Iowa. Photo by: Mark Dorhout


Stream TEAM Science is (slowly) shifting policy—


Register in advance for for another extraordinary presentation— Our monthly “Thinking Like a Watershed” program continues Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at 7 p.m. CT with a conversation with leaders Larry Dolphin, Bill Buckley, Mark Owens, lifelong members of the Izaak Walton League (IWLA), and Josh Balk, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on How E. coli & DNA data changed Mower Co. septic system practices.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with the link to join the program on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, starting at 7 p.m. Central.

500 water samples, a specialty lab, and 40 volunteers confirmed in 2017 that untreated human effluent, as well as hog and cattle manure are contributing to E. coli health threats in the headwaters of the Cedar River watershed in south central Minnesota. One outcome is a slow but steady septic system ordinance re-write in Mower County. Three IWLA members who led both the discovery and the push for change will catch us up on their ongoing work with county staff and discuss the power of data wherever you live. They will be joined by an Iowa DNR colleague with his own fecal data points, collected last summer during a cross-state Cedar River Watershed project.

This monthly series is a project of the Upper Mississippi River Initiative (UMRI) of the Izaak Walton League of America, with co-hosts Chris Henning of the Panora Conservation Chapter and Des Moines Chapter Communication Director, Bud Hartley. We feature guests for 30-40 minute presentations that shed daylight on good works done in the name of the Mississippi and its uplands. In this way we uplift our shared goals for a cleaner river, a cared for environment, and kinder communities. Recorded programs are available shortly after they air live.


Planting Seeds of Enthusiasm—

Panorama Prairie School Project


Mike Delaney inspires Mark Dorhout’s 7th graders at Panorama Middle School, Panora, Iowa. He presented to the Ecology class about prairie restoration, and explained how prairie plants benefit our soil and water.


Mike Delaney shares his knowledge and experience of the prairie with Mark Dorhout’s science students at Panorama Middle School, April 2022, Photo by: Mark Dorhout


Mike with donated seeds, students and their science teacher, Mark Dorhout, April 2022, Photo provided by: Mark Dorhout

Mike’s presentation included a large selection of native seeds from his restored prairie, along with a $500 donation of seeds from The Panora Conservation Chapter of the Izaak Walton League. The seeds were purchased from Allendanseed company in Winterset, Iowa.  “A total of 27 species will be replanted, all of which having local genetic makeup, so they should do well”, says Mark Dorhout

The students organized, cleaned, and bagged the seed in preparation for a restoration that they are doing behind the Panorama Elementary. Photo by: Mark Dorhout



Iowa Division Celebrates—


The Warren County Chapter of Indianola hosted the 99th Annual State Convention April 22-24th. The three-day program was packed with many opportunities for members to socialize with good conversations, food, rifle/trap activities, reports, presentations and awards.


Image captured from the IWL Iowa Division State Convention 2022 program


Tom Hazelton from the Iowa County Conservation System (ICCS) was the keynote speaker. Tom spoke about the history of the ICCS and Iowa’s successful statewide network of County Conservation Boards, which is also considered to be the best system in the nation. He shared how the Izaak Walton League’s efforts helped shaped this network and supported significant policies that have protected natural resources over the past century.


There were several worthy awards given and we’re sharing two examples:

The Griffieon Family was featured with us last month at the Des Moines Chapter’s Farmers’ Appreciation Night and this month, they were the recipients of the “Soil Conservationist of the Year” 2022 award at the State Convention. Des Moines Chapter President is on the left and Iowa Division President, Rick Cerwick is on the right.   Photo by: Christine Curry


The family has been farming in the Ankeny area for over a century, with the sixth generation living on the original homestead. Their diversified farm is truly a living example of excellent conservation practices where they raises corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa. Cattle, chickens, turkeys, pigs, sheep and horses are also a big part of their sustainable farm system. The farm also grows a special variety of Wyffels corn  which is crafted into special spirits and sold through Iowa Distilling Company located in Cumming, Iowa.

“With urban growth pressure increasing upon our farm’s boundaries we hope to increase consumer awareness of the importance of the world class soils that exist around Ankeny.  We also hope more people begin to realize the importance of local food security and a community based food system. It is important to know where your food comes from, and how it was grown and cared for.  We hope you enjoy sustaining our family farm with every bite!” To learn more about the Griffieon’s farm click here!


Save Our Streams (SOS)

Volunteer Award—


Without a doubt Susan is key to our Iowa Save Our Streams program. Thanks to her volunteer time, we are approaching six teams that are now starting to monitor and collect citizen’s science data.

Des Moines Chapter President, Doug Pooch is featured with Susan Heathcote and Rick Cerwick, Iowa Division President, April 23, 2022, Photo by: Christine Curry


Mississippi River is listed as #6 with America’s Most Endangered Rivers. Screen Snap April 2022



An inter-League of Women Voters presents legislative options


The League of Women Voters-Upper Mississippi River Region interleague organization (LWV UMRR) hosts its annual meeting May 21, 2022 at 10:30 a.m. with a discussion of innovative answers to that million dollar question, “Does it take an act of Congress to protect the Mississippi?” From a recent blog promoting the event, league communications director Gretchen Sabel writes, “We will cover the Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience initiative (MRRRI), the Saving the Mississippi River Together initiative (SMRT), the Farm Bill reauthorization and a big idea – the notion of an Upper Midwest Compact to protect the waters of the Mississippi from diversion.  Our speakers represent organizations that are working to protect the Mississippi.”  Details on speakers and to register are found here! 



Springtime Prairie Burns—


Springtime prairie burn in action at Whiterock Conservancy, Coon Rapids, Iowa, April 16th, 2022, Photo by: Christine Curry


Citizens Science in the Works—


Save Our Stream teams are started up again. Stand by for more updates soon…

Water Monitoring On-line Workshops

2022 Thinking Like a Watershed programs—


If you missed our April presentation, here is the link:  The 2023 Farm Bill after 100 Years of Conservation!  with Duane Hovorka, Agriculture Program Director, Izaak Walton League of America



The League played an instrumental role in “groundbreaking environmental victories” during the past 100 years. Duane highlights some of those accomplishments, such as the creation of the Soil Bank in 1956, the Clean Water Act in 1972, the Conservation Reserve Program in 1985, and the Conservation Stewardship Program in 2002.

Duane summarized the 2023 Farm Bill suggestions he’s heard during winter listening sessions. He shares some of the best ideas that others have been sharing to help the Izaak Walton League prioritize solutions.



“Championing the Upper Mississippi River Region” Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Mary Ellen Miller— March 8th, 2022 How a life-long conservationist became an advocate for the Mississippi…a League president discusses conservation & change with Mary Ellen Miller, President, League of Women Voters Upper Mississippi River Region

Our February program featured Kelly McGinnis the executive director of the Mississippi River Network which includes 58 organizations including the Izaak Walton League and several of our UMRI partners.

The POWER of 1 Mississippi & 20,000 River Citizens” Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Kelly McGinnis— February 22nd, 2022 How 58 organizations team up to drive policy—“Can the river count on you?” A call to action…

Kelly shared the power of the Mississippi River Network’s (MRN) use of public outreach and policy advocacy such as the Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative Act. You’ll find out about the activities of the network, a coalition of 58 organizations dedicated to creating a healthier Mississippi River by working for the well-being of the people, land, water, and wildlife of America’s largest watershed.


Photo by: David Thoreson

Our January program was kicked off with an update from Save Bloody Run. Where we learned the latest details from water policy scientist, Steve Veysey.“Save Bloody Run Goes to Court” Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Steve Veysey— January 4th, 2022  An update from a Dedicated Water Policy Scientist who has turned Radical to Save Bloody Run.


2021 Thinking Like a Watershed Programs—

“Heartland Heroines” Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Robin Moore & Denise O’Brien— June 1, 2021  How two savvy conservationists empower working farm landowners to put their inner land ethic to work.

 “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.

“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.

— “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.

“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.

Learn more—


Winter Salt Watch
in the works—

Izaak Walton League provides a fun educational outdoor activity for the entire family…
Learn more here!

To help 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

— 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.