Supporting conservation is the purpose of the new friends group, according to Molly Wilmes, Plymouth County Conservation's community outreach coordinator.
Friends of Plymouth County Conservation will support more than general conservation such as protecting areas for wildlife, she said.
"Friends will help with education, with the Dennis L. Sohl Center for Outdoor Learning and with all forms of conservation in Plymouth County, Wilmes explained.
The new Friends effort formally got underway at the end of November but donations have been received since the beginning of last month, she said.
A group to support conservation has been in the works many years, she said.
"Plymouth County Conservation Board employees simply did not have the time yet to do it before I started working here," she said. "When I got hired (in July) then there was finally someone who had the time available to start the group."
Meetings with the Plymouth County Conservation board and talks with the conservation foundation members led to way the new group was established.
Examples of issues discussed included the levels of donations and recognition for gifts given through the Friends of Plymouth County Conservation, she said.
Donations to Friends of Plymouth County Conservation will be tax-deductible because the group was formed through the Plymouth County Foundation, which is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Wilmes said.
When people make a monetary donations, they have a choice of where that money gets used, she said.
"We've got categories that cover pretty much everything we do in Plymouth County or they can say 'it doesn't matter, it can be used anywhere,'" Wilmes said.
Options for monetary donations include:
* Enhancement and support of the Dennis L. Sohl Center for Outdoor Learning
* Educational programming
* Enhancements for Plymouth County Conservation Board parks
* Habitat management and improvement
* Land acquisition for increased recreational activity opportunities
Donations will also be accepted in the form of volunteer hours.
"What we want to know is what people want to do as volunteers," Wilmes said.
Opportunities could be in a park doing work outside on trails, she said.
"We have opportunities at the Dennis L. Sohl Center for Outdoor Learning such as upkeep and maintenance," Wilmes said.
Volunteers might also assist Victoria De Vos, conservation naturalist, with education.
"If we have a retired teacher who'd like to present a program or retired naturalist -- options are open there," Wilmes sad.
Other volunteer work could include serving as a campground hostess for the summer at Hillview Recreation Area or as a greeter in the lobby of the Dennis L. Sohl Center for Outdoor Learning.
People who would like to volunteer by donating time and talents may call Wilmes at 712-947-4270 or email MWilmes@co.plymouth.ia.us.
She's also willing to answer questions individuals or representatives of businesses may have about donations.
Levels of donation include:
* Student: $15 donation or two volunteer hours
* Individual: $25 or five volunteer hours
* Family membership: $50-$99 or 10 volunteer hours
* Goldfinch membership: $100-$249 or 20-49 volunteer hours
* Red fox membership: $250-$499 or 50-99 volunteer hours
* Bald eagle membership: $500-$999 or 100-199 volunteer hours
* Wapiti (elk) membership: $1,000 or 200 plus volunteer hours
All levels of monetary and volunteer donation receive a subscription to the Nature Notes quarterly newsletter, a Friend of Plymouth County Conservation car decal, early bird signup for summer camps and an invitation to the annual Friends appreciation banquet, according to a press release.
Based on the donation level, members may also receive complimentary rentals of a camping spot, a camping cabin and the Dennis L. Sohl Center for Outdoor Learning.
All the conservation facilities included in the donation benefits are located at the Hillview Recreation Area, west of Hinton, at 25601 C-60.
Donations of monetary gifts are made payable to the Plymouth County Conservation Foundation.
The gifts may be sent to the Plymouth County Foundation by mail at P.O. Box 1033, Hinton, Iowa 51024.