Gift to Iowa's Future Day 2013: Soenksen Gift

Posted on April 3, 2013 in Blog


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A bequest in the name of the Esther Soenksen Estate helped the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation protect 155 acres in Crawford County.

Esther and Vernet Soenksen both grew up near this property and Esther had many fond memories of playing in the 11-acre woodland as a child. They bought the 160-acre farm in the 1950s, spending time walking through the woods, gathering mushrooms and identifying plants they found growing there. Their attachment to this woodland prompted the first discussions about protection. Having no heirs, they were concerned about to whom the woodland would pass.

Vernet passed away in 2007 and Esther, at 93, in November, 2011. Her obituary noted that "she shared Vernet's avid love of wildlife, caring for the land they farmed and practicing soil conservation to save the land for future generations.”

After her death, Ether’s trustees informed INHF that the entire property had been bequeathed to the foundation for continued protection.

The Soenksen farm is a mix of hay ground, pasture, tillable land and timber. The adjoining Riggleman area features roughly 100 acres of native prairie and 30 acres of timber.  Public fishing, hunting and horseback riding are allowed at Riggleman.

Gift to Iowa's Future

In 2008, Iowa legislators designated the first Monday in April as Gift to Iowa’s Future Day to celebrate and honor individuals, corporations and organizations that have helped permanently protect land for parks, trails, natural areas, fish and wildlife habitats in Iowa.

A number of this year’s honorees worked with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to help them find the right options to protect their land for conservation purposes.