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Wilmes joins county conservation efforts

Monday, July 23, 2012

Molly Wilmes joined the Plymouth County Conservation staff as the new community relations coordinator earlier this month. Wilmes' main role is to market the Dennis L. Sohl Center for Outdoor Learning in the Hillview Recreation Area, near Hinton.
The Plymouth County Conservation Department's new community relations coordinator is ready to meet the public.

Molly Wilmes, of the Sergeant Bluff/Salix area, started July 9 in her new role, which includes marketing the Dennis L. Sohl Center for Outdoor Learning and conservation activities.

"I will be attempting to get the community excited and involved in what we do in Plymouth County Conservation," Wilmes said. "I will be letting them know what we're up to so they can get involved."

Initially, she hopes to do that by encouraging more involvement on the conservation department's Facebook page and re-doing its website, Wilmes said.

"Hopefully I'll be getting our name out there as much as possible," she added.

Wilmes said her primary focus will be the outdoor learning center, and when she's in the office it will be open to the public.

"I will have set hours," she said. "We just haven't gotten that far yet."

Wilmes' position is part time and she's currently working four days a week.

Dennis Sohl, county conservation director, said the new community relations coordinator will perform a variety of duties.

"She's going to be self-directed as to how to use her time accomplish that goal," he said. "Everybody in this department is a self-starter and has to be."

Along with marketing, Wilmes said she also plans to help make the learning center's entrance area into a mini nature center.

"The front area will eventually have more exhibits," she said. "It will be interesting."

Wilmes may also be facilitating programs at the center.

For example, she may offer one called Knee High Naturalists for non-school age children.

"We will try to do a little program and have a snack," Wilmes said.

She noted the learning center's large meeting room will continue to be available for renting by individuals or groups.

"It can be rented for weddings, birthday parties, meetings," Wilmes said. "It's a very multipurpose room and that's what we wanted it to be."

Sohl said securing more rentals for that room will be one of her Wilmes' goals.

"She's already doing a good job of promoting what we're doing," he said.

A 2011 graduate of Iowa State University (ISU), in Ames, Wilmes is no stranger to conservation practices.

She is currently finishing a year-long contract with the Thurston County Natural Resources Conservation Service, in Walthill, Neb., where she is a soil conservation aid.

Prior to that, Wilmes researched insects and crop damage in the ISU's entomology department and spent three summers working for the Woodbury County Conservation Department.

"I started college with the intention of teaching," she said. "I realized natural resources was more for me."

Wilmes added that working in county conservation has always been her goal.

"Conservation at the county level is where my heart's at," she said.

As for Plymouth County, Wilmes said she can see a lot of potential.

"There is forever the possibility of reaching out to new people because the county is so large, which is really nice," she said.

Visitors to the conservation department's booth in the Hall of '76 at the Plymouth County Fair, which starts Wednesday, will have an opportunity to meet Wilmes.

"We will just be there letting people know we're here," she said.

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