Joe Frieden Completes Inaugural Living Lands Fellowship

Posted on September 23, 2020 in Press Center


Contact: Joe Jayjack, INHF Communications Director, 515-288-1846, ext. 19

FAYETTE – Joe Frieden recently completed his tenure as the inaugural Living Lands Fellowship fellow. As the 2020 Living Lands fellow, Frieden helped Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) and the Fayette County Conservation Board (FCCB) steward public and private lands in northeast Iowa.

Frieden is a Waukon native, a former INHF land stewardship intern and a recent graduate of Upper Iowa University where he earned a degree in conservation management.

“Working for both FCCB and INHF gave me the opportunity to gain experience on both the public and private side of [land] management,” Frieden said. “So many of our natural areas have been altered and neglected. There is a great need for land management work. I’m thankful for the opportunity the fellowship gave me and look forward to continuing to do my part.”

During the course of his fellowship Frieden assisted with constructing fuel breaks for prescribed fires, native prairie seed collection, tree planting maintenance, invasive species monitoring and management on both remnant and reconstructed prairies and other land stewardship activities. He also learned about conservation easement monitoring (a permanent way to protect land’s special features while retaining private use), and helped evaluate properties for potential future land protection.

“Joe has a real passion for natural resource management,” said INHF Senior Land Stewardship and Blufflands Director Brian Fankhauser. “He’s upbeat, curious and he wants to learn. That’s what this fellowship is about – encouraging that passion and desire to make a difference.”

The Living Lands Fellowship was established at INHF by Maynard residents Kathy Steege and her late husband, Jon, to create an opportunity for recent college graduates to engage in stewardship work while searching for a permanent position in the conservation or natural resource management field. Jon was the Integrated Roadside Vegetation Manager for Fayette County for 25 years and was particularly passionate about creating opportunities for the next generation of professional conservationists.

"This was Jon's dream and we are excited it finally came to fruition," Steege said.

A recent socially distanced gathering between Frieden, members of the Steege family, INHF and FCCB staff and board members took place recently on a property near Clermont that Jon was particularly passionate about. "It means a lot to my family and I to have everyone come together today to remember Jon and to appreciate the conservation work that meant so much to him," Steege said.

The fellowship expanded Frieden’s experience and provided the Steege family with a meaningful way to remember Jon. It also successfully served its purpose of acting as a bridge between graduation and full-time employment in natural resource management. Frieden recently accepted a position as a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist. He will begin his new position, which will be based out of the Adair Natural Resources Conservation Service office, in early October.

“That’s the way it’s supposed to work,” said Steege.

The 2020 fellowship was made possible through a joint partnership between INHF, the Fayette County Conservation Board, Fayette County Pheasants Forever, the Steeges and other anonymous private donors.