CONTACT: Mary Runkel, , 515-288-1846, ext. 17

Des Moines residents receive Governor's Volunteer Award

DES MOINES, IOWA - Six Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) volunteers will receive a Governor's Volunteer Award for their time, service and commitment to the 37-year-old conservation organization. Four area volunteers - Nathan Houck, Catherine Wilson, Marilyn Sand and Ron Schulz - will be honored at 10:30 a.m. on June 21 at Southeast Polk High School's Auditorium.

The award, coordinated by Volunteer Iowa, has been given out to volunteers across the state since 1982.

"I am pleased to honor those who have given the precious gift of their time to meet essential needs across Iowa," stated Governor Terry E. Branstad. "The commitment of these volunteers - and all volunteers - helps Iowa consistently remain in the top 10 states in the nation for its volunteerism rate."

In 2015, 340 volunteers donated over 2,000 hours to INHF. These stewards attended 27 events, assisted in the INHF office and used their talents to advance INHF's mission of protecting and restoring Iowa's land, water and wildlife. The four Des Moines-area winners were nominated for the following:
  • Nathan Houck used his skills as a photographer to donate photos and time to INHF. The photos he takes help the organization protect land for Iowans to enjoy for future generations.
  • Catherine Wilson gave over 70 hours to INHF in 2015. She helped INHF organize a member-wide survey in the spring and fall and assisted in organizing the Mid America Trails & Greenways Conference, a multi-state trails conference held in Des Moines last October. She also traveled the state to volunteer at outdoor land restoration events.
  • Marilyn Sand primarily helped in the INHF office producing mailings and organizing files. Sand has been part of INHF's volunteer program since it began and has been supportive of its adaptation and growth.
  • Ron Schulz was another pioneer of INHF's volunteer program. Since it began in 2013, he has attended multiple outreach events and has been a sounding board for new ideas as they develop. He's donated well over 30 hours.
"These individuals inspire me and the whole INHF staff: we all stand inspired, extremely grateful and very hopeful for the future," said Mary Runkel, INHF volunteer coordinator. "These volunteers give their time to a cause greater than themselves and expect nothing in return. They're improving the conservation world in their own unique ways and deserve the highest recognition for it. Perhaps by sharing their stories, we can encourage and empower others to take action at causes they love."

Two other INHF volunteers, Dennis Haller and Devvin Schroeder of Decorah, will be honored at a ceremony in Cedar Falls on June 28.


Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit conservation group that works with private landowners and other partners to protect Iowa's land, water and wildlife. Since its founding in 1979, INHF has helped protect more than 150,000 acres of Iowa's wild places.

For more information, visit or call 515-288-1846.