Rippling Effects

By Abby Hade Terpstra, Director of Philanthropy on April 28, 2021 in Blog

INHF interns

“During his life, Sandy almost exclusively earmarked his donations for ecological restoration and management, and he really liked field teaching,” said Judy Felder. “The intern program covered both of his main foci: land stewardship and teaching.”

The Richard S. (Sandy) Rhodes II Internship Fund was established at Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) upon Sandy’s passing in 2005. Sandy co-owned Indiangrass Hills, a 640- acre prairie preserve in Iowa County, with Felder and fellow friend Mary Brown.

“This internship provided me with the perfect opportunity to apply the concepts I learned in college. I feel like it bridged the gap between school and field experience to catapult a young conservationist into the workforce,” said 2014 land stewardship intern Alex Gustafson, who is now the Chehalis River Basin Restoration Project Manager at Trout Unlimited in western Washington state.

This year, INHF anticipates hiring 21 interns; 17 working on the summer Land Stewardship crews based in the Blufflands, Central Iowa, Eastern Iowa and the Loess Hills, and four working with communications, trails and conservation programs.

INHF believes in creating and sustaining meaningful internship opportunities for young people. Since the program began in 1986 it has provided professional opportunities for more than 350 college students. These paid experiences provide high-level skills training and a chance to contribute directly to INHF’s mission.

A seasonal INHF intern position can be endowed with a one-time gift or series of gifts totaling $120,000. These gifts provide a steady source of funding year after year for a single, three-month internship position. Individual donations of any amount may also be directed to the internship program.

Marlys Svare made annual gifts that supported the intern program during her lifetime, allowing INHF to hire interns for the communications and development programs as well as land stewardship. The Svare Family Internship Fund has continued to support the annual funding needs of the internship program beyond Marlys’s passing.

“That experience really helped shape the path I’m on and was probably one of the more pivotal experiences in my life,” said 2007 Svare intern Tim Youngquist, who is now the STRIPS Farmer Liaison and Agricultural Specialist II at Iowa State University in Ames. “The internships that INHF offers produce a great amount of positive ripples throughout the state that aren’t always felt right away but are invaluable nonetheless.”

Contact Director of Philanthropy Abby Hade Terpstra at or 515-288-1846, ext. 15 to discuss a gift to INHF’s internship program.