Iowa Conservation Stewards Recognized at 2015 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic

Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever recognized seven landowners for their efforts to protect natural resources in Iowa during the 2015 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic. Highlighted throughout the weekend as the “Conservation Faces of Iowa,” each individual earned their conservation title for varied efforts to conserve wildlife habitat and support the mission of Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever.

“Nothing of great significance happens in the world of conservation without partnerships,” explained Tom Fuller, north region director for Pheasants Forever. “The greatest partnerships our chapters and staff develop are with landowners and producers at the local level. We applaud the actions of the inaugural ‘Conservation Faces of Iowa’ class, and thank them for their continued leadership in protecting Iowa's natural resources.”

“Conservation Faces of Iowa” Award Recipients

Leon Bracker – Located in the famed Loess Hills region of western Iowa is a 900-acre farm owned by Leon Bracker. Nearly 50 percent of his property is enrolled in an assortment of conservation practices including filter strips, grassed waterways, upland bird buffers, and large native grass plantings. Bracker has worked with Pheasants Forever to develop his property and acknowledges the positive relationship between farming and the protection of natural resources.

Grant Jensen – Grant Jensen is the co-owner of a small family farm near Waverly, Iowa. Working closely with his brother to protect 190 acres formerly owned by their father, Jensen has embraced conservation as a way to leave a lasting legacy in Bremer County. The property consists of upland bird buffers, constructed wetlands, and pollinator habitat which provide an oasis for pheasants and other wildlife.

Gary & Sharon Johnson – Located in southeast Iowa and acquired by the Johnson family in 1877, the property owned by Gary and Sharon Johnson of Lee County contains wildlife areas untouched for generations. Combining no-till farming practices with upland bird buffers, filter strips, wetland restoration, and pollinator habitat, the Johnson property can be considered a farm that is truly dedicated to conserving wildlife within an agricultural landscape. The Johnson family has worked with Erica Yost, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill biologist, to maximize conservation potential on their farm.

Riley Lewis – Scattered among the prairie potholes of Winnebago County is the property of Riley Lewis and his son, Todd Lewis. Combining a wide array of permanent conservation easements and CRP practices, the Lewis family has balanced the needs of wildlife habitat against the bottom-line of running a family business. In addition to the creation of valuable wildlife habitat, the Lewis farm also provides standing rows of corn to aid wildlife populations during the harsh winter months.

Matt McQuillen – Matt McQuillen, of Jones County, has gone above and beyond to create and improve wildlife habitat on his own land (1,100 acres) and on lands now in the public trust (facilitated 12+ land acquisitions). In addition, he’s been an active Pheasants Forever chapter leader. Located within two key watersheds of eastern Iowa, McQuillen has enhanced his property with wildlife habitat, soil conservation, and water quality by utilizing constructed wetlands, upland buffers, and tree plantings.

Jim Nelson – Jim Nelson is a chapter president and conservation advocate who promotes wildlife-friendly practices on his 627-acre farm in southern Iowa. Located on the Monroe/Lucas County line, Nelson has utilized the Conservation Reserve Program to establish short and tall grass prairies, brushy draws, ponds, pollinator plots, and nearly 40 acres of food plots throughout his property. These wildlife areas were recently highlighted during an educational prairie tour on Nelson’s farm.

Richard Sloan – Nestled among the rolling hills of east-central Iowa, a 700-acre farm operated by Richard Sloan demonstrates balance between agriculture and conservation. Located in Buchanan County, Sloan utilizes a host of different conservation programs including cover crops and buffer strips as a valuable addition to production agriculture. Working in tandem with Chris Hiher, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill biologist, Sloan has identified conservation best management practices for the health of his soil and longevity of his farm.

About Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 140,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent, the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.  Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $508 million on 475,000 habitat projects benefiting 10 million acres nationwide.

Photo Credit: Emily Magers - Recipients of the 2015 "Conservation Faces of Iowa" awards look on as they pose with Pheasants Forever staff and agency partners at the National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic.

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