Jefferson County Conservation received funding from the Destination Iowa
Outdoor Recreation Grant in April 2023. This exciting development marks the beginning of a
transformative project that will enhance outdoor experiences in Jefferson County. Over the
past six months, the Jefferson County Conservation Board has been collaborating with
French-Reneker-Associates, Engineers and Surveyors, to plan and design the campground.
Situated east of Jefferson County Park, off Key Boulevard, the new campground will offer a
new camping experience.


The Prairie Ridge Campground, set to be Phase 1 of a master plan, will feature 14
campsites equipped with sewer service, water, and electric hookups. Each campsite will
have crushed stone surfaces, complemented by a fire ring and picnic table. Positioned to
overlook an existing pond, campers will enjoy direct access to nature trails and day-use
amenities at Jefferson County Park.


Construction of this project has begun, with completion slated for the
summer of 2025. For any inquiries or further information about this exciting
project, please don’t hesitate to contact Shawn Morrissey at the Jefferson County
Conservation.

This year Project AWARE will be conducting a river cleanup event along the Skunk River. The event will take place from Sunday, July 7th until Friday July 12th. They will be going through Jefferson County on July 9th and 10th. Registration is currently open for this event, anyone wishing to register can do so on their website. Volunteers are welcome to register for just one day, the whole week, or any combination in between. This is the 21st year of Project AWARE.

Jefferson County Conservation would like to welcome Austin Roe as the new naturalist. Austin will begin on Monday, November 27th.

My name is Austin Roe, I grew up in Eddyville, IA hunting, fishing, and just enjoying being outdoors. After high school, I spent four years in the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton as a combat engineer. I then went to school at Kansas State University (Go Wildcats!) where I earned my degree in wildlife ecology and management. As I learned more about animals and natural systems, my love for the outdoors grew and I decided that I wanted to be able to share my knowledge with others so that they can enjoy and appreciate nature in the same way. This is what led me to want to be a naturalist. I’m excited to be joining the staff here in Jefferson County and look forward to sharing my love for the outdoors with you.

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 Naturalist@JeffersonCountyConservation.com.

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!