RCCB Celebrates 50 Years!

Posted:2/3/2014 Ringgold / Ringgold Conservation Office

Ringgold County Conservation Board Celebrates 50 Years!              

     2014 marks the 50th Anniversary for the Ringgold County Conservation Board. The Conservation Board was founded in 1964 by the original 5 Board members: Ronald "Bud" Beymer, Chester Gibson, Barton Turner, Lyle Hosfield and Duane Miller.    

     In 1955, the Iowa State Legislature approved the County Conservation Law, now Chapter 350 of the Code of Iowa.  These conservation boards are authorized to acquire, develop, and maintain areas devoted to conservation and public recreation.  Parks, wildlife areas, preserves, river accesses, recreation areas, and museums are a few examples of areas that have been acquired.  Conservation boards also serve as a primary nature resource management agency in their respective counties, help educate local residents about environmental issues, operate nature centers, manage county wildlife conservation efforts, and administer roadside vegetation management programs.  County conservation boards have been created in all of Iowa’s 99 counties.  The system is a unique blend of lay input, professional staffing, and cooperation between county and state agencies.  This system is recognized as one of the most successful county conservation programs in the United States.
      The first 13 years of establishment, the Conservation Board managed their areas without any equipment or staff. The Board members volunteered their time and equipment for maintenance. In 1977, the Conservation Board hired their first and only full-time employee, Mark Versch as Director. In 1980, Versch was replaced by Rick Hawkins who served for 30 years. In 2010, Hawkins retired and was replaced by Kate Zimmerman. For 37 years, the Conservation Board has been maintained with only one full-time employee.                

        The Conservation Board itself has only had 14 Board members since establishment in 1964. These members have gone above and beyond their duties as Board members to help provide the best service to the communities. These dedicated public servants have ensured the success of the Ringgold County Conservation Board. Here are the devoted Board members and the years they served on the Conservation Board: Bud Beymer-37 years, Chester Gibson-30 years, Barton Turner- 11 years, Lyle Hosfield-7 years, Duane Miller-7 years, Dale Greene-37 years, Kenneth Quick-19 years, Ivan Shield-1 year, Bill Hynek-5 years, Susie Catanzareti-1 year, Jim Norris-13 years, Doug Frost-19 years, Dale Walkup-23 years and Randy Bishop-38 years!     

        For 50 years, the Conservation Board has served the communities of Ringgold County. They own and manage 8 areas, encompassing over 1,000 acres. The areas and years the Conservation Board acquired them are as follows: Fife’s Grove Park – 1966, Poe Hollow Park -1967, Kokesh Recreation Area-1972, Ringgold Trailway-1978, O’Neal Rest Area-1987, Mapleleaf Pathway-1988, Boone Woods-1990 and the Don and Connie Huff Wildlife Area-2005.     

        The Conservation Board has been emphasizing Environmental Education over the past few years and the program has grown substantially with 124 programs and over 2,000 participants last year alone. In 2012, Director Zimmerman received the Bohumil Shimek Environmental Education Award for going above and beyond her job description in providing educational programming to the public. Keep your eyes out for news about our newest project, a Nature Center for Ringgold County! The Nature Center will provide a place for year-round programming and will be open for scheduled programs as well as on a self-touring basis. The center will offer habitat and wildlife displays, along with live animal exhibits for an engaging and educational experience.    

        The Conservation Board has also recently founded the Ringgold Conservation Foundation, a “friends group” to the Conservation Board that will help with fundraising and planning events. This group is made up of community members that include: Marcy Gregg, Jessi Grose, Jim Norris, Bill Stump and Roger Townsend.   

        To celebrate their 50th Anniversary, the Conservation Board and Foundation have planned several special events this year. Here are some of the scheduled events to look forward to:

March 31st - May 19th 2014 – Tallgrass Prairie Travelling Exhibit
May 25th 2014 – Prairie Chicken Fun Run
June 2nd-20th – Digital Scavenger Hunt
August 2nd, 2014 – Movie in the Park
September 6th, 2014 - Monarch Butterfly Tagging
October 12th, 2014 –  4th Annual Bike/Hike
November 1st, 2014 – Turkey Trails   

        The current Ringgold County Conservation Board: Randy Bishop, Susie Catanzareti, Doug Frost, Jim Norris and Dale Walkup, along with Director Kate Zimmerman would like to thank the community for their continued support and look forward to serving you for 50 more years!   

        For more information about the Ringgold County Conservation Board, visit mycountyparks.com or like us on Facebook for current updates on events and projects being completed in the RCCB areas.