New Year, New Staff

By Haley Hodges on January 30, 2018 in Blog

Jessica, Derek and Katy

Left to right: Jessica Riebkes Clough, land projects assistant; Derek Miner, land stewardship associate; Katy Heggen, communications assistant. 

Three familiar faces joined Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in January, increasing capacity in 2018.

Katy Heggen joins INHF as the new communications assistant. She worked with INHF as a communications consultant for nearly a year before transitioning into a permanent post on Jan. 1. Katy will continue to create content for INHF's print and digital communications, coordinate volunteer and outreach communications, and provide project management and support. Prior to joining INHF, Katy worked for the Iowa Environmental Council.

Katy, a St. Paul, MN native, holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communications from Drake University. She enjoys using her communications background to help protect, restore and connect people to Iowa's outdoors. She especially likes sharing landowner stories.

"INHF works with the most amazing people," Katy said. "I love getting out on the land, speaking with landowners and learning about why they decided to permanently protect their property. Their love for the land is contagious. It's a privilege to be able to share that with others."

Jessica Riebkes Clough joined the land staff as the new land projects assistant mid-January. Jessica first worked as INHF's grant writing intern in the summer of 2016. She then worked at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in the summer of 2017 and part-time with INHF's conservation easement and land stewardship staff in 2016 and 2017. As the land projects assistant, Jessica works primarily with conservation easements and land projects, and provides support for land project transactions, the land database, easement monitoring and easement baseline prep.

Jessica is an Iowa native with a background in biology and holds a B.S. from Central College and a masters from UNI. Although much of her work will occur in the Des Moines office, she'll be in the field helping with conservation easement monitoring and collecting baseline data at other properties. 

"Coming in with a biology background will help me understand what I’m seeing on the land and also help inform landowners choices when they’re implementing easements or thinking about restoration," Jessica said. "I’m passionate about land conservation but I’m also passionate about helping people. I feel like INHF is the right place for those to meet."

Derek Miner will be the new land stewardship associate. He joins INHF’s stewardship team working to restore and protect native prairie, oak savanna, woodland, wetlands, trails and other fragile natural areas and additions to public conservation areas. Derek previously worked with INHF as a statewide land stewardship intern in the summer of 2014. 

"I was at a fork in the road and the internship made me fall in love with land management. It made me realize that it was possible to be in the field, working and improving habitat every day," Derek said. Before his internship, Derek was studying biology at Central College with the intention of becoming a biology teacher. "The passion's always been there, I just love learning. You grow up in rural Iowa and there's farm fields everywhere but I always thought there was something more."

During the summers, Derek will help to supervise INHF’s team of land stewardship interns as they work on public and private land throughout the state. The rest of the year, Derek will help with other stewardship activities, volunteer events and monitoring INHF-held conservation easements.