Welcome to the Winnebago County Conservation Board, one of 99 county conservation boards in Iowa.

We are located in the rolling hills of north-central Iowa's prairie pothole region.

Our purpose is to provide outdoor recreational opportunities for everyone and to protect and conserve our natural resources.

Scroll down for the latest news and browse through our web site often to see what we have to offer! And, be sure to contact us if you have any comments or questions!


Read the latest edition of "The Prairie Country Quarterly" here.


Check out our
Thorpe Park web cam!










Our “Educating and Connecting Generations Naturally” Capital Campaign has topped the $1 million fundraising mark! Thanks to some nice grants and many private donations, we have now raised over 80% of our $1.2 million goal!

As a result, the first step towards construction was recently completed, with the installation of a septic system at the site. Other work this fall will include site preparation and the removal of a grove of trees. The grove currently consists of “weedy” trees such as box elder, mulberry, and ash that are of minimal benefit to wildlife; they will eventually be replaced with trees and shrubs that will be more beneficial. The plan is then to let bids over the winter so that actual construction can begin next spring or summer. Hopefully, we'll be able to celebrate a Grand Opening later in 2020!

But, fundraising will continue throughout the winter so that we can reach that goal. To help out, all donations made for a limited time will be matched dollar for dollar, thanks to a generous donation from Randy and Mary Jane Hagenson! So, if you haven't donated, now would be a great time to help us cross the finish line! You can download a pledge form or pay online below.

We want to thank all the donors who have contributed so generously to this project and have helped to make this vision become a reality! We are truly grateful for all the support we have received!

Environmental Education Center Capital Campaign

Connecting Generations Naturally:
A Campaign to Build an Environmental Education Center in Winnebago County

The WCCB and our Friends Foundation have begun a capital fundraising campaign to raise money for our new environmental education center. Below is information about that campaign and how you can help!

Why an Environmental Education Center?

Currently, Winnebago County has no environmental education center. The WCCB offices are housed in a 65-year old converted cabin which is not ADA-compliant and is at the end of a 5-mile gravel road. The current building is less than 2,000 square feet and can accommodate fewer than a dozen visitors at a time.

Almost 3/4 of Iowa's counties now have nature centers. These facilities get people outdoors and promote an increased quality of life. They offer environmental programming for school and civic groups, as well as the general public. They are  tourist destinations that help visitors learn about the valuable natural resources of the area and also serve as meeting locations for local civic groups and other organizations. Our center would serve all of these purposes, as well as house the offices of the WCCB.


  • The center will contain exhibits and interactive displays to help increase people's awareness and knowledge of their natural resources, as well as how to conserve those resources.
  • It will be centrally-located in the county, just south of the north junction of Highways 9 and 69.
  • The building will be 40' x 96', or 7,680 square feet over two levels.
  • It will be a post-and-beam design, with 28'-high vaulted ceilings.
  • The building will meet ADA specifications for accessibility.
  • It will include a variety of green design elements, including geothermal and solar energy systems.
  • Rooms will include offices, a large program/meeting room (that will seat 85-100 people), an exhibit area, a workshop/activity area, a staff meeting room, and a kitchenette.


It is estimated that the cost of the new center will be between $1.2 and $1.3 million. The WCCB has already voted to commit $225,000 of non-tax dollars to the project. The rest will be raised through grants and private donations. We do not anticipate using any tax dollars for the construction of the center.

The following donor recognition levels have been established...      

  • Chickadee Level: < $250
  • Bluebird Level: $250-$499
  • Goldfinch Level: $500-$999
  • Cardinal Level: $1,000-$2,499
  • Sandhill Crane Level: $2,500-$4,999
  • Trumpeter Swan Level: $5,000-$9,999
  • Bald Eagle Level: $10,000 and higher.

All donations under $250 will be recognized in "The Prairie Country Quarterly," our quarterly newsletter. Donations above that amount will also be recognized at the center itself. A variety of naming opportunities will also be available for larger donations.

Fundraising will continue into 2020. We have completed preliminary dirt work and plan to let construction bids next summer, with actual construction beginning later in 2020. If all goes as expected, we then hope to be holding our Grand Opening late in 2020 or early in 2021!


If you would like to help us with this exciting project, you can use this Pledge Form and send your donations to:

The Friends of Winnebago County Conservation Foundation, Inc.
34496 110th Avenue
Forest City, IA   50436.

You can also donate via credit card, debit card, or Pay Pal.

Our Friends of Winnebago County Conservation Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, so your contributions are tax-deductible. If you have questions about this project, or if you would like to make an especially large donation, please feel free to call and talk to us at 641-565-3390.

Thank you!


Do you shop on Amazon?

If so, you can help out our Friends of Winnebago County Conservation Foundation!

Just click here and you can designate us as your preferred charitable organization! Then, each time you shop, go to smile.amazon.com and .5% of your qualified purchases will be donated to our foundation. It's an easy way to donate, and it doesn't cost you anything! For more information about AmazonSmile, click here.

Be sure to check it out. And, thank you!

Treat yourself to a relaxing stay at the Lake Catherine Cabin!

For more information about the cabin, you can download the following items:

Cabin rates are $61.00/weeknight and $77.00/Friday and Saturday nights. (These rates include sales tax and Iowa hotel/motel tax.) To reserve the cabin, please let us know the dates using our reservation button below. Then, fill out the rental agreement above and return it to us either through the mail or electronically. Finally, send your payment in (including a separate $200 deposit check). Let us know if you have any questions!

Reserve Cabin Now
Reserve Cabin Now

We will contact you to confirm your reservation. Thank you!


Check the calendar to the left
to see which dates
are available.

(Green dates are available,
red dates are already booked.)

A two-night minimum stay is required on weekends.
Thank you!


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We will be offering a Master Conservationist Program here in Winnebago County! It will help local residents learn more about conservation through a curriculum that blends online and classroom lessons with outdoor field experiences.

Be sure to donate to the Chickadee Checkoff on your Iowa state tax form to help nongame wildlife in Iowa! Look for the Fish/Wildlife Fund, line 57, on Form 1040. You can donate whatever amount you'd like and it will either be deducted from your refund or added to what you owe.

The WCCB and NIACC are offering a fun program on Beginning Snowshoeing! It will be held at Pilot Knob State Park on Sat., 2/22, from 1-3 PM.
The cost for the program will be $15.00. Register for Course #5795 by contacting NIACC at 641-422-4358, extension 4358.

Research shows that only 120 minutes a week in nature is all we need...Something we all can (and should) do! https://e360.yale.edu/features/ecopsychology-how-immersion-in-nature-benefits-your-health?fbclid=IwAR3OMIC-7qYEI5gbyKTV5iXUHlTOdUJjATXwUDebYcmSSmiEfNBZ25txyV4

We have raised the rates at our Lake Catherine Cabin to now include Iowa's hotel/motel tax. The new rates are now $61/night during the week and $77/night on Friday and Saturday nights. All new reservations will be charged the new rate.

The Winnebago County Conservation Board and the NIACC Community Education Program are teaming up to offer a fun program on Beginning Snowshoeing! The program will be held at Pilot Knob State Park on Saturday, February 22nd from 1:00-3:00 PM, beginning at the warming house.

Before the snow set in, we were able to begin dirt work at the site of the new Environmental Education Center! Although work is beginning, donations are still needed to get us through construction. Check out our web site for how you can help! And thank you!

Dire news from our neighbor to the north. Iowa bats may soon face the same consequences, if we don't work quickly to save them. http://www.startribune.com/facing-a-bleak-outlook-minnesota-bat-researchers-try-a-new-tack/565934002/?fbclid=IwAR30stAAXQ2rKtJx4NiMlf72O4AJDorTGkcDeFySuW1i00Faqvh1Pj-ZrFw&refresh=true

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