Join Jefferson County Conservation for a summer of fun! We have a great line up sure to peak your outdoor adventurers’ interest!

Registration opens May 1st at 6:00am

Summer Nature Camps
4 & 5 Years                Caterpillar Camp                     May 30-June 2
4 & 5 Years                Caterpillar Camp                     June 6-9
1st-2nd Grade           Tadpole Camp                           June 6-9 (Afternoon Session)
1st-2nd Grade           Tadpole Camp                           June 13-16 (Morning Session)
2nd-3rd Grade          Nature Detectives                   July 11-14
3rd-4th Grade           Time Warp                                 July 5-7
4th-5th Grade           Geology Rocks                          June 20-22
5th-6th Grade           Best of the Best                        July 18-21

You may only sign your child up for one camp during the month of May to give more participants the opportunity to attend.

Please note:

  • We ask that adults do not attend Summer Nature Camp as it allows participants to better explore and try new things.
  • Camps are set up for students who will be entering the listed grade during the summer.

As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Jefferson County Conservation, we would like to highlight several of the people who have made such an impact on our organization. When it comes to a legacy of conservation, Carl Zillman is a name that quickly bubbles to the top of the list.

Carl served on the Jefferson County Conservation Board for twenty years from 1975 into 1995. During this time, he also served as the Jefferson County weed commissioner, began a tree distribution program to area 4th graders, and was elected chairman of the Fifth District Iowa County Conservation Board. He was a member of the board when the original 117 acres of Jefferson County Park were purchased. By the time he retired, the park had grown to 175 acres.

In 1986 Carl and his wife Mary donated 46 acres to Jefferson County Conservation, known now as Zillman’s Hickory Hills. This park has a mix of habitats which include three ponds, timber, and a prairie which hosts numerous animals including migrating monarch butterflies in the fall as they journey south to Mexico. The park is a wonderful setting for hiking, fishing, and bird watching.

In 1992 the Zillman’s donated funds to establish the, Mary and Carl Zillman Conservation Scholarship Fund, a yearly scholarship to advance education in the field of conservation, wildlife management, or other related fields. These funds are managed by the Greater Jefferson County Foundation, and are offered to Fairfield High School graduates furthering their education in the aforementioned areas of study. Over $35,000 has been awarded to date.

In 1993 Carl won the prestigious Lawrence and Eula Hagie Heritage Award. The award is one of the largest Conservation awards in the nation and is designed to bring attention to those who have been particularly committed to improving the quality of Iowa’s natural environment. In the previous year Carl was awarded Citizen of the Year by the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce in recognition of his conservation work. By this time Carl had earned the moniker: Mr. Conservation.

A sizeable collection of Native American artifacts was donated to the Jefferson County Conservation Board by Carl and Mary in 1981. They decided to donate the collection so it would remain in Jefferson County where most of the artifacts were found. Many of the items were found along Skunk River, Cedar Creek, and the Des Moines River in addition to Jefferson County farm fields. The collection is comprised of around 500 arrowheads, stone knives, spear heads, tomahawks and other specimens displayed in the entry and in glass enclosures in the Nature Center.

Without Carl’s drive and passion for Conservation, Jefferson County Conservation would be a lesser place.

We are offering winter nature camps for students in pre-school through 8th grade. Each camp is $10 unless noted and has a limited number of participants.

Pre-School– FULL             Tuesday, December 27             9:00-11:30am
Kindergarten– FULL         Wednesday, December 28      9:00-11:30am
1st Grade                             Thursday, December 29          9:00-11:30am
2nd Grade                           Tuesday, December 27            1:00-3:30pm
3rd Grade                            Wednesday, December 28      1:00-3:30pm
4th & 5th Grade                 Thursday, December 29           1:00-3:30pm

Camp Kyle
6th-8th Grade                   Friday, December 30           10:00am-2:00pm

Registration opens November 1st at 6:00am and must be completed online.

The Jefferson County Conservation Board would like to thank the family and friends of Jim Adam for their generosity. With the memorial funds for Jim Adam, a bench will be installed in his honor overlooking the south pond at Jefferson County Park, near Libertyville Road. The remaining funds will cover the purchase of new reels used during Environmental Education programs. Over a thousand participants attended fishing programs in the last year with Jefferson County Conservation. Jim was an avid fisherman who enjoyed the outdoors and has many friends and family in the area.

Conservation Staff will be closing the Restroom/Shower Houses in Jefferson County Park on Monday October 31st. The Campground will be closed from November to April. We’ll re-open in April when conditions allow.
The electricity and water at Mac Coon Access and Round Prairie Park will be shut off in early November.

Join Jefferson County Conservation and the Carnegie Historical Museum as they team up to bring you ‘Bison Week’. Four different programs will be offered throughout the week at no charge to the public.

On Tuesday, October 25th ‘Land of the Bison’ will be held from 6:00-7:00pm at the Jefferson County Park Nature Center. We’ll explore the natural history of bison in the eastern tallgrass prairie and look at new findings from research in Iowa. Pete Eyheralde has been involved in bison ranching in southern Iowa for over 20 years and is an Associate Professor of Biology at William Penn University.

Head to the Carnegie Public Library on Wednesday, October 26th for second program of the week. The ‘Carnegie Buffalo: The Story Behind the Beast’ will be held from 10:00-11:00am at the Carnegie Historical Museum. Come learn the history of the iconic Carnegie Buffalo, its association with the Old Settlers Day, and how it ended up at the Carnegie Library.

‘Native Americans and Bison’ will be held on Thursday, October 27th from 6:00-7:00pm at the Jefferson County Park Nature Center. Join Cherrie Haury-Artz, Education Specialist with the Office of the State Archaeologist, as she shares how the Native Americans would utilize different parts of the bison.

The final program of the week is geared for children! Join Toad and Timberdoodle as they share with kids all the interesting adaptations of Bison. ‘Kid’s Corner: All About Bison’ will be held on Friday, October 28th from 10:00-11:00am at the Jefferson County Park Nature Center. This program is geared for children but all ages are welcome. Children must be accompanied by an adult. This program is scheduled during the Fairfield Community School District Teacher In-Service day.

This program is part of Bison Week co-sponsored by the Carnegie Historical Museum and Jefferson County Conservation. Bison Week is celebrating the new Bison head mount and hide donated to the Jefferson County Park Nature Center by Frank Redeker.

Pre-registration is not required for any of the events. For more information, please call (641)-472-4421 or email

Have you seen them yet? Little birds displaying very dark smooth backs and light gray or, white bellies hopping around under your bird feeders? If you have, WINTER is coming.
These little songbirds, a species of New World grayish sparrows, are slate-colored juncos which have come to Iowa to escape winter in Canada and Alaska. They enjoy our “warmer” winters and will stay until March or April, and then migrate back to cooler summer climes. They are fun to watch, hopping around, chatting and foraging with their flock-mates. Juncos have a hierarchy, and the earliest arrivers are the highest mucky mucks of the flock. But even with their exalted positions they like to hang around in mixed flocks of chickadees, sparrows, and kinglets.
They will be happy to come to your feeders, especially if you offer hulled sunflower seed, white millet, and cracked corn. In the wild they primarily eat seeds and grain so you could also offer garden flower seeds. Zinnias, cosmos, coneflowers and marigolds are flowers you could grow in the garden and their seeds left on the flowerheads over winter. These seeds could also be placed on a low platform feeder or replace regular birdseed in hanging feeders. They also enjoy mealworms, non-salted roasted peanut pieces, peanut butter, and nyger seed.
It is a good thing they are so cute as you know they will be followed by cold, wind, and snow. Start looking for these little “storm clouds”, because they’re baaaack!

Halloween is upon us bringing thoughts of spooky and creepy things like jack-o-lanterns, black cats, and bats! But did you know that little brown bats are very important to healthy ecosystems? These little critters eat insects, LOTS of insects! They can eat over 1,000 insects in an hour so you can see how they are very important to farmers as they protect plants from pests and reducing the need for pesticides.
Little brown bats are native to Iowa and most of the nation, but the population is declining. In fact, they are an endangered species of mouse-eared microbats. It has a small body size, about the length of an adult’s thumb and the weight of 3 or 4 pennies, but its wingspan makes this little guy seem huge! The wingspan can be from 8 to 11 inches! If one happens to appear in your house, you might not notice his long, glossy fur that can be golden, reddish, olive, or dark brown; or his dark little face, and his darling little mouselike ears, while running and screaming, covering your head with your eyes closed. (More on this happenstance later.)
These little critters roost in trees, rock outcrops, and structures like bridges during the summer. They need to live where there are insects to eat, and clean water. Their lifespan is usually around six or seven years and give birth to one pup a year. During the winter they hibernate in buildings, (sometimes your attic, see the paragraph above), abandoned mine shafts, and caves throughout Iowa, and especially in southern and eastern Iowa.
If you were to find a bat in your house, STAY CALM. They want out as much as you want them out. First to remove the little guy, (if everyone has not already run screaming from the room), get everyone out of the room. Second, turn off the ceiling fan and all the lights. Turning off the lights will help the bat find a way out as they are nocturnal and can see very well in the dark. Third, make sure the bat is closed off in one room so it will be easier to find a way out. Open any windows and screens, this will help the bat can find it’s way out without any help from you.
HOWEVER, and remember to STAY CALM, if the bat cannot find it’s way out you may have to catch and release. First never handle the bat with bare hands. Wear thick work gloves-but not cotton, as most bats can bite through cotton. Bats will most likely land somewhere they can hang-behind curtains, upholstered furniture, on hanging clothes, or in house plants. Carefully place a plastic tub or similar container over them. Gently work a piece of cardboard or stiff paper under the container, (this works for big creepy spiders as well), trapping the bat inside. Now you are ready to release the bat outdoors. Because most bats cannot take flight from the ground, tilt the container or allow the bat to climb a tree trunk or other vertical surface.
Now I know you’re probably thinking, “But what about RABIES!?”, you should be happy to know little brown bats rarely test positive for rabies, however, if you are bitten seek medical help immediately.
Bat numbers are declining in Iowa because of loss of habitat. Work to improve bat habitat in Jefferson County Park, Gantz-Hewitt Timber and Whitham Woods will be started soon. This work will include clearing invasive brush undergrowth including but not restricted to Bush Honeysuckle.
So, I hope this helps take the creepiness away from bats…stop running! STAY CALM! Unless you are an insect, then you need to worry.
Written by Diana Flynn

Conservation Board Celebrates 50 years of service to the citizens of Jefferson County
On November 7th of 1972 the citizens of Jefferson County voted to establish a local conservation board to develop parks and recreation areas. Look for our upcoming articles and throwback pictures to commemorate the development of our parks and a few of the individuals who’s contributions helped make it happen.
The origin of Iowa’s county conservation system started back in 1934 when a group of people, which included renowned conservationists such as Ding Darling and Aldo Leopold, developed a plan that would provide outdoor recreational opportunities to local county residents.
From this idea, the first attempt was made in 1942 to pass enabling legislation. It wasn’t until 1955 that the county conservation law passed in the general session. Since then, all 99 counties in Iowa have established a county conservation program.
Jefferson County voted into existence their county conservation board program in 1972. Conservation Board members appointed by the County Supervisor to serve over the past 50 years have included Wayne Parsons, Gene Parker, Bill Briggs, Dean Johnson, Norman Baird, Carl Zillman, Bill Baker, Terri Diers, Ron Myers, Keith Wells, Kathy Tollenaere, Cory Klehm, Wayne Atwood, Gavin Stever, and Molly Mosinski.
Four Directors have been employed by the Board over the last 50 years: Joan Sturdavent (1973-76), Jim Bashor (1977-83), Dennis Lewiston (1983-2019), Shawn Morrissey (2019-present).
According to Chapter 350 (originally Chapter 111A) the purpose of county conservation boards is “to acquire, develop, maintain and make available to the inhabitants of the county public museums, parks, preserves, parkways, playgrounds, recreational centers, county forests, wildlife and other conservation areas and to promote and preserve the health and general welfare of the people, to encourage the orderly development and conservation of natural resources and to cultivate good citizenship by providing adequate programs of public recreation.”
The purpose established for county conservation boards is extremely broad; therefore, allowing each county to establish a program that meets the needs of the local public.
Since its inception, the Jefferson County Conservation Board has acquired and developed 12 areas encompassing just over 1400 acres. Also, in that time it has provided environmental education programs for multiple generations of school kids as well as numerous other public programs.
Thanks to the past and present board members for their dedication and countless hours of donated time to provide outdoor recreation opportunities to Jefferson County residents. Also, thanks to the County Board of Supervisors for their overall support in establishing these recreation areas. And last but not least, thanks to the citizens of Jefferson County who have endorsed and supported this conservation effort and have helped make the program a success.
Written by Shawn Morrissey

Frank Redeker stands beside the American Bison head he donated to the Jefferson County Park Nature Center. Redeker also donated a full-sized Porcupine mount, a Bison hide, and an Elk hide. These new items will be used for educational purposes in the Nature Center. In celebration of these donations, ‘Bison Week’ is being planned for the end of October. Various programs will be held throughout the week to better understand this keystone species.