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Volunteer Spotlight: Shawn Gives Back by Getting His Hands Dirty

Join us as we shine a light on Pottawattamie Conservation volunteers to thank them for their time and talents and recognize the difference they make in our community. Our volunteers ROCK!

Below, take a moment to meet Pottawattamie Conservation volunteer, Shawn:

Shawn at Hitchcock Nature Center.

How long Sean has volunteered with us: 

Shawn has been volunteering ever since he moved to the area from Ankeny two years ago, and he mainly supports Pottawattamie Conservation’s Natural Areas Management team.

What he does as a Natural Areas Management volunteer: 

As a Natural Areas Management volunteer, he helps our team treat and remove invasive plants, thin trees, and cut back brush in order to let the area’s native grasses and plants thrive. 

With roughly 2,500 acres to manage across the county, our three-person land management team is extremely grateful to volunteers like Shawn who support their physically demanding work day-to-day.


Why Shawn volunteers:

Shawn loves that his time volunteering allows him to be adventurous and experience the outdoors in a very hands-on way—plus the views of the Loess Hills are an extra special treat!

“My roots are in camping and as a young man, Boy Scouts made me realize how beautiful our natural world is. I’ve always been driven to give back, especially in today’s world where there is so much political and corporate control of our lands and water that I just want to do what I can within my control to help our environment get healthy.”

What he’s learned while volunteering: 

With environmental training from Polk County Conservation, the Conservation Corps of Iowa, and Pottawattamie Conservation, Shawn is what we might consider a triple threat as a Natural Areas Management volunteer. For him, working with our team has helped his love for nature grow into actively preserving it as he works alongside others who passionately care for public lands and restoring ecosystems.

Something interesting about Shawn: 

Shawn has been set on getting his hands dirty and involved in conservation work from the very beginning. Here are just a few fun facts about him:

  • He decided in his sophomore year of high school that he would go to ISU and pursue his environmental studies degree.

  • He enjoys taking part in a mid-year retreat with the IowaProject AWARE, an Iowa Watershed Awareness River Expedition, where he joins others in collecting litter along the river while canoeing and camping. 
  • He helped organize the Stewards of Browns Woods, a Des Moines-based nonprofit, where he managed volunteers for restoration and park cleanup projects.

Volunteers like Shawn make a huge difference for our small organization by keeping our parks beautiful, providing a great experience for visitors, and supporting local conservation efforts that protect wildlife, pollinators, and us humans, too! His dedication, along with all of our other amazing volunteers, allows us to reach more people about the importance of natural spaces and be good stewards of the land. We truly couldn't do it without our passionate volunteers and can't thank them enough for everything they do to support conservation work.



Explore Volunteer Opportunities & Apply Today

We are always looking for new faces to help us keep Pottawattamie Conservation parks beautiful and educate the public. Whether you prefer outdoors or indoors, our volunteer opportunities provide impactful ways for you to make a difference, connect with nature and support our community.

Regular volunteers have the option of setting their own schedule and are rewarded with educational opportunities and other benefits. Volunteers also receive an annual park permit and a discount on gift shop merchandise as a thank you for their efforts.

For more information on volunteer opportunities or to schedule a private volunteer project please contact Dana Kruse, Volunteer and Facilities Coordinator at (712) 545-3283 or email him at


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