Master Conservationist Program








Planting the seeds of conservation in Iowa

Through hands-on interaction with the diversity of the state’s natural resources, the Master Conservationist Program teaches participants about Iowa’s natural ecosystems and the diversity of conservation challenges and opportunities that exist in Central Iowa. Graduates of the course learn to make informed choices for leading and educating others to improve conservation in our area.

The program consists of approximately 12 hours of online curriculum and several in-person, in-the-field meetings. The online modules will include lessons and resources by Iowa State subject-matter experts to be reviewed at the participants’ own pace at home. Module topics include conservation history and science, understanding Iowa ecosystems, implementing conservation practices in human dominated landscapes and developing skills to help educate others about conservation practices.

The in-person meetings build on the online course material are held at varying locations from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday evenings late April to early June. Each face-to-face meeting will be led by local subject-matter experts to demonstrate how the principles covered in the online curriculum play out locally. In person meeting places throughout the course include but are not limited to:

  • Polk County Extension Office
  • Jester Park Nature Center
  • Fort Des Moines Park
  • Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
  • Easter Lake Park
  • Thomas Mitchell Park

The Polk County Master Conservationist Program is a partnership between ISU Extension and Outreach, Polk County and Polk County Conservation.

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Spring 2025 Program

Registration will open in February for our spring 2025 session of Master Conservationist. Historically the in-person sessions are held on Tuesday evenings from 5:30p.m. to 8:30p.m. beginning in April and ending in June. 

Join the waitlist for Spring 2025 to be the first to know when registration opens!

Join the Waitlist!

Contact us

Gina Buelow
Natural Resources Program Coordinator

The Master Conservationist Program is administered through the Natural Resources team within ISU Extension and Outreach – Agriculture and Natural Resources. The project coordinator and county extension offices collaborate to plan offerings of the program, and a local organizing committee is responsible for planning field visits and classroom discussions that are paired with structured online lessons completed before attending.