Story County Conservation (SCC) receives funding from several sources. The biggest portion of funding comes from property taxes. Grant money is sought as often as possible and private donations also play an important part in funding.
The Friends of Conservation Trust Fund allows you to donate to SCC in a variety of ways. You may choose to donate a particular item on the wish list or give a gift of money to commemorate a special occasion or to remember a loved.
Monetary donations can be used for the purchase of natural areas. Direct gifts of land or conservation easements are also welcomed. Both are a great way to protect your wild areas from future development.
Your gifts to the Friends of Conservation Trust Fund are tax-deductible under U.S.C. section 170(c)(1). We recommend that you confer with your tax preparer for information on tax-deductible donations.
Story County Conservation (SCC) provides numerous volunteer opportunities for all ages. Whether you want to volunteer individually or as a group, we would like you to be a part of our team. Our volunteers contribute nearly 4,000 hours of service annually. The work our volunteers do helps SCC reach conservation goals and benefits everyone who visits our parks or participates in any of our events or programs.
The mission of the Story County Conservation Volunteer Program is to provide opportunities for meaningful, personal participation in furthering the conservation board's mission. Our volunteers are valuable stewards of our natural resources.
If you have an interest in helping, we can find a project for you! Here are some of the ways you can get involved:
- Clerical - General office projects, including copying, folding brochures, and preparing mailings.
- Data Entry - General computer data entry. Computer experience is requested but not required.
- Photography - Attend special events and photograph the event's activities for archive and use in publications.
- Program Assistant - Assisting with summer youth programs; repairing fishing poles; and providing assistance at public programs.
Park and Trail Maintenance
- Adopt-A-Park/Adopt-A-Trail - Cleanup and disposal of litter at an assigned park or section of trail.
- Bluebird Program - Monitoring and maintaining bluebird boxes on county areas from April 1 to August 31.
- Trail Maintenance – Volunteers may choose to serve on the Story County Trails Advisory Committee to help plan workdays and trail activities, and/or participate in scheduled Trail Enhancement And Management (TEAM) Days which involves trail work on a specific project.
Prairie and Roadside Management
- Seed Cleaning - Cleaning and separating seed from chaff by hand as needed. Instructions provided.
- Seed Harvest - Collecting seed from native prairie plants by hand September through October. Can be done with a group at a scheduled event or on your own with instructions from staff.
Citizen Science Projects
- Wasp Watchers - help us detect Emerald Ash Borer in Story County by monitoring wasp nesting colonies! Learn more here.
Partners Membership Program
Story County Conservation Partners is a membership program, which was started in 1996 by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to find new ways to support conservation efforts in Story County. Join Today!
Partners has three goals:
- To develop a network of supporters and volunteers.
- To increase public awareness, information, and appreciation for Story County parks, natural areas, programs, and activities.
- To secure supplemental financial resources to help Story County Conservation (SCC) achieve its mission.
Each year the advisory committee, with input from the conservation director, selects a project to receive Partners membership donations. FY17 membership donations raised over $20,000 to go towards the acquisition of the Ronald "Dick" Jordan Family Wildlife Area south of Ames. Roughly the same amount was contributed in FY18 and was put towards acquisition of Carroll Prairie north of Nevada.
All membership donations received in FY19 will go towards a new beach house at Hickory Grove Park. Construction will occur during the lake restoration. Plans include handicap accessible family-style restrooms, an outdoor rinse-off station, and an updated concession area. Part of the old beach house will be converted to an open picnic shelter.
All Partners members receive a 10% discount on all programs and building rentals (does not apply to alcohol/wine fees or deposits, camping, or boat rentals).
Provides SCC staff with suggestions and input on all major aspects of the Partners organization. The committee meets four to six times per year.
Agendas are available the Monday prior to each meeting.
Minutes are also available following approval.
Partners are people - people just like you who want to make a difference. When you join Partners, you become part of a bigger picture, a picture that cant be complete without you.
Iowa's General Assembly enacted the "Chickadee Check-off" in 1981, as a means of providing more substantial funding to aid all wildlife in Iowa, but especially nongame species. It was this new funding source that actually cleared the way for establishing a nongame wildlife program in the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, today called the Wildlife Diversity Program (WDP). The check-off has provided Iowans an opportunity to voluntarily donate a self-designated portion of their Iowa tax refund when completing their Iowa form 1040s. If tax payments are still due the state, filers may even add a donation amount to their outstanding tax bill, if the spirit moves them.
Although still generally called the Chickadee Check-off, today's Iowa 1040 just refers to the term "Fish/Wildlife" fund on a line near the end of the tax form. Even though tax form terminology has changed, contributions made on this line still are credited to the special WDP account and are used to further conservation of nongame wildlife.
What kind of projects does a donation to the fish/wildlife fund help support?
- 5 full-time staff members in the Wildlife Diversity Program dedicated to Iowa's Wildlife
- Restoration of previously lost Iowa Wildlife such as: Peregrine Falcons, Ospreys, Trumpeter Swans, and Prairie Chickens
- Educational Wildlife Appreciation events held all over the state such as: Bald Eagle Watch Days, Pelican Fest, Prairie Chicken Day
- Designation of Bird Conservation Areas in key areas around the state supporting increased habitat for all types of birds
- Multiple research projects on Birds, Butterflies, Bobcats, Fish, Amphibian and Reptiles
- Population monitoring of species status and populations through research projects and volunteer surveys such as: Multi-Species Inventory and Monitoring, Breeding Bird Atlas, Breeding Bird Survey, Bald Eagle Midwinter Survey, Frog and Toad Call Survey, Raptor Nest and Colonial Waterbird Colony monitoring
- Acquisition of important lands for public use in wildlife watching, hunting, hiking, and fishing
- Technical Guidance provided on land management for wildlife species
- And many other things.
How Can You Donate?
Making a donation is very easy. The contribution line for the check-offs is in section 9 "Tax Credits and Check off Contributions" on line 57 of Iowa's state 1040 long tax form. It is listed as the Fish and Wildlife fund and is always the first check-off to be listed. Simply fill out the amount you would like to donate in the space next to the fish/wildlife fund. If you are owed a refund the amount of your donation will be automatically deducted from your refund. If you owe taxes back, simply add the amount of your donation to the check you send in to the Department of Revenue. Every penny of your donation is then pulled out and given to the Wildlife Diversity Program - there are no administrative or processing expenses removed from your donation. The donation is also tax deductible on the following years tax form just like any other charitable giving. Also, if you'd like, you may give to more than one of the check-offs.
For official instructions and descriptions of all the tax check-offs please visit the Iowa Department of Revenue's website. You may also download a state tax form from their site.
What's the Financial Status of the Chickadee Check-off Fund?
The revenue from the chickadee check-off has exhibited an overall downward trend since 2001. Iowans donated $132,000 last spring when completing their 2014 tax forms. At its height, Iowans donated more than $200,000 annually to the fund.
How Else Can You Help?
Spread the word! The more people that are aware of the check-off, the more people will donate. If you are a tax-preparer or even own another type of business we have bookmarks and posters that you can make available to your clients. If you'd like to order some (free of charge) please contact Stephanie Shepherd, 515-432-2823 x 102.